Quarter 1 (Jan - March) 2006 Archive

Friday, March 31, 2006. National: Do some homework before selecting a contractor for a home remodeling project She asked for references, checked with the Contractor's State License Board and the Better Business Bureau, and made sure her contractors were insured.

It did her little good.

Friday, March 31, 2006. PA: Judge dismisses accused builder's defense attorney Brodheadsville builder Dennis Slayton will have to find a new defense attorney for his home-sale theft and drug cases

Friday, March 31, 2006. PA: John Karoly Disqualified from Monroe Case A high-profile attorney has been disqualified from a controversial case. John Karoly tells 69 News that he has been forced to step down as Monroe County builder Dennis Slayton's attorney.

Friday, March 31, 2006. Oregon: Construction Claims Task Force New material posted

Friday, March 31, 2006. IN: Hoosier charged in immigration fraud case Federal prosecutors say Robert Adrian Porcisanu of Franklin used a fraudulent immigrant visa to obtain a Social Security number, incorporate his construction company and hire illegal laborers to work at sites across the country.

Friday, March 31, 2006. IL: Alderman building case for brick houses "My opinion is that the state of new construction in the city of Chicago has reached a low point, and this is what aldermen are finding themselves having to do," Fine said. "You have to look at this as a chronic problem of shoddy workmanship and bad architecture.

Friday, March 31, 2006. U.S.: Bidders lining up to buy papers In Philadelphia, a local investment group that includes Bruce Toll of Toll Bros. homebuilders, has made a preliminary offer for the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News..."Having a big developer own the paper is a serious concern because development is a core news topic."

Thursday, March 30, 2006. U.S.: Ben Stein, on the money - ours as well as his I think the housing market will continue to decline. We're coming off the biggest housing boom in 15 years. I think we're way overbuilt and overpriced. Everything is ripe for a fall. There's already been a substantial decline in many parts of the country and a dramatic rise in inventory, including in South Florida.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. PA: Developer pleads to bribery in Phila. councilman probe In return for the more than $5,400 Pastrana paid at the Sporting Club at the Bellevue, Mariano sponsored and voted favorably on legislation through which Pastrana, a real estate developer, acquired a city-owned property, according to court documents.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. MI: New subdivision clubhouse raises ire In Grand Blanc Township, the clubhouse of a new subdivision is at the center of a controversy.

It's being built by a company with ties to developer Blake Rizzo. Last year Rizzo was convicted of fraud, but he's now back in business.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. U.S.: Centex to sell sub-prime mortgage unit Home builder Centex Corp. (CTX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it agreed to sell its sub-prime home equity mortgage unit to Fortress Investment Group for a net gain of about $575 million and said it would concentrate on home building.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. NJ: DEP cites beleaguered builder A developer already entangled in controversy has been cited by the state for damaging wetlands.

The state Department of Environmental Protection issued two notices of violation against Atlantic Realty, the developer of the multiphased Woodhaven Village near Texas and Englishtown roads.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. AZ: Phoenix a homebuyers' market Home builders are wheeling and dealing like county-fair carnies trying to win over nervous buyers. [commentary can be posted at end of article.]

Thursday, March 30, 2006. National: What's happening in the housing market? Tell your story ABC News inviting comments from readers.

Thursday, March 30, 2006. OH; National: Proposed Ohio title insurance rules get boost Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has asked that watchdog agency the Government Accountability Office investigate the title insurance industry.

Schneider introduced her title insurance bill in 2004 in the aftermath of a title insurance scandal, reports said. In that scandal, a now-defunct home builder in Edgewood, Ohio, the Erpenbeck Co., pocketed closing proceeds from more than 300 home sales instead of using the money to pay off construction loans, according to reports.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. NE: Trustee Takes Charge A U.S. bankruptcy judge decided to let a trustee take over Benchmark Homes and several attorneys involved say it's the most efficient way to sell the company's remaining houses.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. International: Inspectors sacked as aid housing put on hold He would not reveal which agencies were responsible for building substandard houses, saying only that many were involved.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. National: McClatchy accepts bids for 12 papers Bruce Toll, vice chairman for home builder Toll Bros. Inc., also confirmed he is leading a group of investors that bid for the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. FL: Neighbors at odds with builder The eyesores come courtesy of KB Home, rated the most-admired home builder in America in Fortune magazine's March 6 edition.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. FL; National interest: New state rules would weaken environmental law in Escambia "Wetlands absorb rain, and there are consequences for destroying what nature has provided as a way to absorb this water," said Ellen Roston, an environmentalist with the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area. "We have tremendous flooding problems because of this.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. NC; National interest: Lawyer crusades for the little guy "We've lost the public," said Jackson, 51, widely considered a pioneer in class-action lawsuits involving home construction defects. "Jurors have been so poisoned by the bad publicity, it's hard to get a fair shake in the courtroom."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. International: U.S. builders poised to shun our lumber American homebuilders warned Tuesday that they will abandon Canadian lumber for European and Russian products if Canada "knuckles under" to the U.S. lumber lobby and signs a softwood agreement that includes taxes or quotas.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. U.S.: Cracks in Lennar's Foundation? I apologize for sounding like a broken record here, but I'm miffed once again that the company still does not include a balance sheet or cash flow statement with its release. If a company is going to talk up its balance sheet (as management did several times on their conference call), it'd be nice to actually, you know, see it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. TX: Ethics in Wonderland That's right. The man who didn't report where TRMPAC was getting its money doesn't want you to know how big the gift was that he received from Mr. Perry. The range of possibilities is considerable. Perry donated $3.1 million in the 2002 election cycle alone. Ceverha did tell the San Antonio Express-News the purpose of the gift: to help him pay off what he said was $850,000 in legal fees from the lawsuit he lost.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006. TX: Editorial: Ethics panel renders itself next to useless State law requires officials to report gifts and donations they receive in excess of $250. In the case of Bill Ceverha, a trustee of the state Employees Retirement System, the public doesn't know whether the check he received from Houston homebuilder and Republican mega-donor Bob Perry was in the amount of a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. TX: Relaxed rule on politician gifts called 'outrageous' At issue is the ethics commission's ruling last week that public officeholders need not disclose the size of checks given to them as gifts. The question arose after Bill Ceverha, a board member of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, received a gift from Houston home builder Bob Perry, which Ceverha described only as a "check" on a financial disclosure form.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. WI: New law covers suing a builder Homebuyers who discover defects in their newly built houses will have to jump through a few hoops before suing the contractors under a new Wisconsin law enacted Monday.

The so-called Right to Cure Act was...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. FL; National interest: Lawmakers to eye limits on political committees For example, Richard Gentry, lobbyist for the Florida Association of Homebuilders, testified that it is not uncommon for interest groups to band together and collectively agree on which races to target.
They hire a campaign consultant to run anonymous attack ads, and voters never trace it back to the interest groups.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. MN; National interest: Why Some Home Warranties Are Worthless To avoid paying claims, homebuilders can now dissolve their company and reopen under a different name.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. National interest Re: Toll Brothers Homes and others' buying up the media: Newspaper Sale Stirs Up Local Moguls' Ambitions The would-be press lords — many of them businesspeople and politicians — will also have to contend with skeptics who believe they would be too ready to tilt news coverage to their own benefit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. TX: Relaxed rule on politician gifts called 'outrageous' At issue is the ethics commission's ruling last week that public officeholders need not disclose the size of checks given to them as gifts. The question arose after Bill Ceverha, a board member of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, received a gift from Houston home builder Bob Perry, which Ceverha described only as a "check" on a financial disclosure form.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. FL: Spring Hill home builder cited after complaints The county Development Department, responding to repeated complaints from customers of Designer Homes Inc., has cited the company for failing to pay subcontractors' liens and ignoring notices of building code violations.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006. National: Mortgage Fraud in the News New articles on mortgage fraud posted almost daily.

Monday, March 27, 2006. Green Building: Phthalates are a home concern for some phthalates are also found in many household furnishings such as flooring, furnishings and countertops. There are alternatives, though. Natural materials can be purchased and are more readily available now since many consumers have become increasingly aware of the dangers of many plastic chemicals as well as other toxins.

Monday, March 27, 2006. National interest: She paid for roof, got lien on house Two summers ago, Mary McKinney paid $8,000 to repair her leaky roof.

But the construction company she hired didn't pay for the supplies used for the project - and that's why a lien was placed on her house

Monday, March 27, 2006. FL; National interest: An affordable home [Tallahassee]was the first city in Florida to require inclusionary zoning in new developments of more than 50 units. The state home-builders association quickly sued.

Monday, March 27, 2006. FL; National interest: State senator's home discount under scrutiny State Sen. Ken Pruitt in 2003 and 2004 received a discount worth $8,345 from a Royal Palm Beach home builder who partnered with and retained lobbyists, possibly a violation of the state law that banned lawmakers from taking gifts of more than $100 from people or entities with lobbyists.

Monday, March 27, 2006. IN; National interest: Residents balk at project's builder "It's not the price of the homes we're worried about, it's the quality," said Karen Minniear, who lives nearby. "We do not need this kind of builder in Noblesville."
Neighbors cited Federal Trade Commission complaints and a troublesome KB Homes project in Arlington, Texas, as reasons for their concern. [2005 news article: Relates to today's story below from CA re: KB Home.]

Monday, March 27, 2006. CA; National interest: KB Home faces fight over large housing project in Scotts Valley "The whole concept is fine with me except when we get down to K-and-B," says Councilman Barrett. "Their reputation precedes them, and we are not real happy with their reputation. They built homes in Scotts Valley before, and we had a ton of problems with them. [Quote is from pg. 2 of article]

Sunday, March 26, 2006. OH: Beleaguered DOMINION HOMES designs a plan to restore its reputation "We made mistakes with our customers," Senior Vice President Thomas L. Hart told The Dispatch. "We have some major things to fix, but they are fixable." [HADD would love to hear feedback on this from Dominion's customers.--Ed.]

Sunday, March 26, 2006. PA: Bringing contractors up to code "I became convinced that a law to register contractors and homebuilders, accompanied by appropriate public reporting requirements, is critical to boosting the protection our citizens expect and deserve their government to provide," Rendell said in a statement.

Saturday, March 25, 2006. NE: Omaha builder closes down Benchmark Homes, one of Omaha's biggest homebuilders, shut down its operations Friday, saying it had no choice given a bankruptcy judge's order granting the company one-tenth of the operating funds it requested.

Saturday, March 25, 2006. U.S.: New home sales slumping Already, sluggish sales and traffic have prompted homebuilders to offer discounts and incentives on homes for sale, but they will have to start cutting prices in earnest if they want to unload the record inventories of unsold homes they've been accumulating, he said.

Saturday, March 25, 2006. PA: Bruce Toll among local bidders for newspapers Bruce Toll, a founder and major shareholder in luxury-home-builder Toll Bros. Inc., said yesterday that he is the "lead investor" in a homegrown group that wants to buy The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

Saturday, March 25, 2006. TX: Officials can hide gift amounts The ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission during a closed-door executive session and confirmed Friday by several observers close to the case involves a check for an undisclosed amount made last year to Bill Ceverha, a figure in the fundraising scandal surrounding U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay. Houston home builder Bob Perry, the state's No. 1 individual campaign donor, gave Ceverha the check.

Saturday, March 25, 2006. FL: Pruitt's house deal tests gift law State Sen. Ken Pruitt in 2003 and 2004 received a discount worth $8,345 from a Royal Palm Beach home builder who partnered with and retained lobbyists, possibly a violation of the state law that banned lawmakers from taking gifts of more than $100 from people or entities with lobbyists.

Friday, March 24, 2006. U.S.: Proper installation of wood siding Installing wood siding is not a difficult physical job, but there are some critical steps for a professional-looking, long-lasting job. These pertain to selecting the proper fasteners (nails), preparing the siding properly and nailing it properly to the walls.

Friday, March 24, 2006. U.S.: Home sales slowdown a boon to buyers As demand has fallen, and home builders have continued to put up new houses, the inventory of homes on the market has risen, putting further pressure on sellers to cut prices.

Friday, March 24, 2006. NJ: Vincenti, Concannon get fines, probation Two former Old Bridge township officials who pleaded guilty to taking favors from developers were sentenced last week to pay fines, serve probation and perform community service.

Friday, March 24, 2006. CO: Builder sentenced in scam against elderly homeowners A home-improvement contractor who bilked 13 elderly people out of thousands of dollars was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison.

Friday, March 24, 2006. NE: Attorney: Lights Go Out For Benchmark Without Cash A judge will decide on Friday whether an Omaha homebuilder will have access to cash it says it needs to remain in business.

Friday, March 24, 2006. National: At long last, a new home sale slump New home sales fell more sharply than expected in February -- and with them, the median price of a new house and the supply of houses for sale -- in the latest signs of a slowdown in what had been a white hot housing market. The Census Bureau reported sales at an annual rate of 1.08 million homes in February, down 10.5 percent from the revised rate of 1.21 million in January.

Friday, March 24, 2006. TX: The elephants in the dark To ensure that large gifts don't unduly influence decision-makers, state law rightly requires public officials to disclose any gifts worth more than $250. On his 2005 personal financial disclosure, Ceverha indicated that he received a "gift" from Bob Perry, Houston homebuilder and Republican kingmaker. Ceverha, in the section where he was supposed to describe the nature of the gift, wrote simply "check." In doing so, Ceverha continued a very dangerous pattern of secrecy and nondisclosure.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. MI; National interest: City needs more information before allowing development on another landfill Should we be relying on the developer's facts and figures in this critical decision? Will it be cleaned up properly?

Thursday, March 23, 2006. MI: Farmer won't yield in land fight Grabow, whose grandfather started the farm in 1947, contends that township officials have harassed him because they want him to sell his farm.

"They came after us because they wanted this property sold and developed," Grabow said.

"This is prime land -- developers are constantly asking us if we want to sell.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. U.S.: ABC News Video on rising foreclosures Adjustable Rate Mortgages, etc. VIDEO w/sound.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. LA: Man arrested in Katrina contractor fraud Police have arrested a man in Georgia they believe took nearly $17,000 from three Kenner residents before disappearing without doing any work, and they are investigating the possibility of more victims.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. NJ: Council tables action after feds raid developer's office Mayor Robert Kleinberg and council members said they believed the FBI raid on the West Main Street, Freehold Borough, offices of builder Steven Meiterman and his attorney brother, Bernard Meiterman, could be linked to an ongoing probe of municipal corruption in Marlboro.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. VA: Scam sentence: Thomas Coghill gets 33 months In both cases, Coghill borrowed money to build homes by using houses for collateral that did not exist or belonged to someone else, and he falsified documents to show completed houses that were actually just empty lots.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. PA: Judge Sets Court Date for Poconos Home Fraud Case A federal lawsuit alleging a conspiracy between a Poconos developer and one of the nation's largest mortgage companies to defraud more than 100 home buyers is scheduled for trial next year.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. WV: Kanawha couple seeks $1.3 million "The wrongful acts of Defendants were willful, intentional, wanton, and malicious with intent to deceive Plaintiffs, entitling Plaintiffs to punitive damages," the complaint says...After the sale, it alleges, the Comers found numerous construction defects, including faulty electrical wiring, improperly installed plumbing, an improperly installed roof, water drainage problems and an unstable or improperly constructed foundation which resulted in movement of the structure and its floors and cracking of ceilings, walls and floors.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. MT: Unarrested Development Brad Franklin, the erstwhile Flathead home-builder who allegedly bilked two of his Flathead clients and several Flathead businesses out of millions of dollars, is still at large, despite a warrant being issued for his arrest in late February

Thursday, March 23, 2006. NE: Benchmark To Appear In Court Benchmark Homes will be in bankruptcy court Thursday morning after the company filed an emergency motion.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. National: First default, then despair The warning signs are everwhere

Thursday, March 23, 2006. MA: Probe second jobs City leaders should call for an investigation to determine whether the three Lowell police officers who are also working as real-estate developers or contractors are violating any departmental regulations.

One Lowell officer -- Joseph Espinola -- has been on injured-in-the-line-of-duty leave for a year and, in accordance with state law, receives his Police Department salary tax-free. Thus far this fiscal year, the city has paid him nearly $51,000. However, despite the injury that prevents him from working for Lowell, Espinola has been able to work as a home builder.

Thursday, March 23, 2006. IL: Suit by 2 towns accuses home builder of forgery One of the area's larger home builders allegedly forged a document, broke state law and tried to skip out on paying $2 million in fees in preliminary work on a controversial subdivision, according to a lawsuit filed this week on behalf of Lemont and Homer Glen. [Montalbano builders]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006. WV: Three Morgantowners sue for misrepresentation Filed on March 16, the suits state that both the Braggs and Taylor fell victim to a man named "Mr. Johnson," who assured them that Forquer Contracting had a valid license to begin construction.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006. MN; National: Human trafficking in MN Trafficking victims are often involved in industries where they are “invisible,” including domestic servitude, sweatshops, restaurant and hotel businesses, farm work, construction...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006. FL: Pruitt forced into legal battle [Pruitt]whose district includes much of northern Palm Beach County — has been subpoenaed to testify in a defamation lawsuit filed by a Charlotte County lawmaker against groups financed largely by the Florida Home Builders Association.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006. TX: Whether 'reporting' or 'concluding,' it all still stinks Bob Perry has given the governor $435,000 over the past six years, McMinn has donated $100,000 and McNair, more than $175,000. McMinn also helped guarantee a $1.1 million loan for Rick Perry's 1998 lieutenant governor campaign. As reported previously, Gov. Perry in 2003 signed a bill creating the Texas Residential Construction Commission, a new state agency primarily designed to give homebuilders, such as Bob Perry, more protection from consumer lawsuits.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006. TX: Wrath of the Soccer Moms On that day, it received $25,000 contributions from both real estate magnate Michael Stevens and homebuilder Bob Perry, the biggest campaign donor in the state for the past three years. (Bob Perry also gave more than $152,000 directly to Charlie Geren’s opponent.) Lobbyist Mike Toomey directed, and also contributed to, the PAC. (Toomey, a former chief of staff for Gov. Perry, was a leader of the 2002 corporate-funded campaign by Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business that boosted Craddick into the speaker’s chair.) In all, the Texas Opportunity PAC supplied a lot of aid to a select slate of GOP incumbents, including $170,000 worth of mailers on Grusendorf’s behalf in the campaign’s final two weeks. (Of course, only certain Republicans were deemed worthy enough to receive money from this pack of Craddick allies: The Texas Opportunity PAC didn’t give a dime of support to the five moderates under attack from Leininger.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006. U.S.: Conservationists Vie To Buy Forest Habitat Big River, neighboring Salmon Creek and dozens of other forests across the nation have come on the market in recent years as timber companies shed holdings that are worth more as real estate than as a source of lumber.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006. MI; National: Property estimates for Detroit homes overinflated, lawsuit charges A Grosse Ile man has filed a class-action lawsuit against 17 companies and individuals, alleging he was the victim of real estate fraud based on grossly inflated residential property appraisals.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006. AZ: Homebuilders give $40K to support Mesa tax proposals A homebuilders lobbying group has donated $40,000 to the campaign supporting Mesa’s proposed property tax and sales tax increase.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006. MN & National interest: Measure forces builders to honor claims on warranties Rep. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, wants home builders to honor their 10-year warranties even after they have ceased doing business and have dissolved their corporation.

“Currently builders are dissolving and then coming back under a different name, and when they do that, the warranty is no good on the home,” Goodwin said.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006. CO & National Interest: Builders portrayed in bad light [Denver Post Reporter Al Lewis's Blog: Comments may be posted in response to an earlier news article on builder-sponsored "right to repair" laws. --Ed.]

Monday, March 20, 2006. National interest: Tips to avoid home improvement scams From the St. Petersburg Times, FL

Monday, March 20, 2006. MS: Lawsuit claims engineering firm altered damage report An engineering company altered a report to eliminate the significant role wind played in severely damaging the home of an elderly Gulfport couple during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, a lawsuit claims.

Monday, March 20, 2006. Insurance Journal: Pa. Gov. Rendell Vetoes Homebuilder Damages Cap Deemed Unconstitutional Rendell said any legislation geared to help homebuilders lower their liability insurance costs should also require them to register with the state and establish a victim's compensation fund. [You can post comments at the end of this article. --Ed.]

Monday, March 20, 2006. FL; U.S.: Pruitt forced into legal battle The powerful Port St. Lucie Republican has been subpoenaed to testify in a defamation lawsuit filed by a Charlotte County lawmaker against groups financed largely by the Florida Home Builders Association — one of the state's more well-heeled groups — which targeted him for defeat in 2004. [Article allows comments to be made. --Ed.]

Monday, March 20, 2006. FL; U.S.: Lawmaker turns tables on secretive electioneering organizations They officially are called campaign electioneering organizations, groups with enigmatic, often patriotic names whose members remain largely secret and whose finances go largely unchecked. Unlike other groups with contribution caps of $500, these groups have no such restrictions enabling them to funnel money into targeted campaigns with virtual impunity.

In 2004 two such groups with ties to the Florida Homebuilders Association...

Monday, March 20, 2006. U.S.: Home loan delinquency rate shows increase More Americans fell behind on their mortgage payments at the end of last year as they struggled in the face of hurricane damage, rising interest rates, higher gas prices and holiday credit card bills, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday.

Monday, March 20, 2006. MI: Detroit leaders harassed proprietor The owner of a Detroit collision shop alleges city building officials launched a campaign of harassment against him and his business after he refused to sell his property to a politically connected developer.

Sunday, March 19, 2006. D.C.; National interest: Clients hurt by lack of clarity on agent representation A lawsuit in the Washington, D.C., suburbs is focusing fresh light on a growing problem: Real-estate agents are failing to disclose whom they represent in transactions — even where state laws require them to do so in writing at their first substantive meeting with a potential client.

Sunday, March 19, 2006. MO: Building codes to go before voters Taney County cabinetmaker Larry Henderson said he'd seen shoddy building practices over the 30 years he'd been doing finish work in Taney County homes.

The problems he sees are mainly poor framing, "and nobody's regulating it," Henderson said. "I think it's going to be a necessity in the county, or there's going to be a problem."

Sunday, March 19, 2006. GA; National: Today’s Letter: A Georgia Reader Calls Them “Criminal Trespassers” Homebuilders say that hiring of illegals keep the costs of new homes down. But, look at the astronomical cost of new housing! The truth is that illegal alien labor fattens their pockets.

Sunday, March 19, 2006. CO; How builders' "right to repair" law is working there: Slow fix floors homebuyers "It's very hard to sue homebuilders in this state," said Pinkowski, one of the lawyers for the Werkings. She said a Colorado construction-defects law, passed in 2003, makes it almost impossible to collect triple damages or attorney's fees - remedies that are sometimes needed to justify the costs of filing lawsuits.

An attorney for Alpert Homes, Tom Alfrey, also complained about the law. He said it forces homebuyers "to jump through a number of hoops before they can ever get their problems addressed." This causes homeowners to needlessly escalate legal stakes among homebuilders, subcontractors and insurers, he said.

Sunday, March 19, 2006. PA; National interest re: builders' "right to repair" legislation pending in several states: Dispute resolution bill no help to consumer By THE BUCKS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER PROTECTION

Saturday, March 18, 2006. PA: Rendell nixes home-builder resolution bill Scott Elliott, spokesman for the builders' association, said the group had sought opinions from three separate law firms, which did not believe the bill violated the state constitution.
"We wish the governor would have signed the bill and that it would be tested in the courts," Scott Elliott said.
[How can it be tested in the courts when arbitration clauses keep consumers from being able to take a builder to court??? --Ed.]

Friday, March 17, 2006. PA; National impact?: Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Vetoes builders' "right to repair" bill; Unconstitutional "The proponents of this bill suggest that it would afford both contractors
and consumers equal opportunity to resolve their disputes without having to
resort to expensive litigation," the Governor said in his veto message. "In
fact, I believe this bill has the potential to cause both parties to become
more involved in litigation, requiring them to pay unnecessary legal bills
and, ultimately, driving up the cost of builders' insurance and new homes as a
result."
Governor Rendell said the bill failed to address the real reasons why
liability insurance premiums are increasing for homebuilders and contractors.

Friday, March 17, 2006. OK: Floodplain Follies "People think it's nice and they want to build out there -- they don't realize the problems they could face on down the road," said Dan Cary, Cleveland County emergency management director and floodplain administrator.

Friday, March 17, 2006. OH, KY: Erpenbeck Sentenced To 20 Years In Murder-For Hire Plot The patriarch of a prominent Tri-State construction family was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for his part in a murder-for-hire plot.

Friday, March 17, 2006. PA: [Scroll down to:] "Put a lid on this bill" Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has driven another nail in the coffin of a badly crafted bill that would give builders and contractors the upper hand over consumers in disputes over shoddy workmanship.
The legislation approved with little public debate would impose a cap on legal damages in some disputes - even if a builder was to blame. Whatever you might think of that needless jab at consumers, it happens to run afoul of the state constitution, according to Corbett.
Now, Gov. Rendell should give the so-called "Dispute Resolution Act" a well-deserved funeral - by vetoing it.

Friday, March 17, 2006. PA: Residential Construction Dispute Resolution Act [a.k.a. Right to Repair; see articles on this topic posted earlier this week also. --Ed.] Governor Rendell has until Friday to sign it into law. His office tells us today he does have very serious concerns about it because the Pennsylvania Attorney General has told him he believes the bill is unconstitutional. [Article contains a link to the actual bill. --Ed.]

Friday, March 17, 2006. WA: Transients paid $100 to open accounts in bank fraud scheme Orlovskiy, who has owned a construction company, was being held in Clark County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Friday, March 17, 2006. NJ: "Public corruption case" triggers raid by FBI, IRS "Much of the development that happened in Marlboro for the past 20 years is atypical of a normal, healthy, growing community," Marlboro Mayor Robert Kleinberg said. "One can only wonder why it happened. With today's raid of the Meiterman offices, we hope it brings the federal authorities closer to deciphering what actually happened in Marlboro."

Friday, March 17, 2006. NJ: FBI seizes documents of builder and lawyer Agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service spent more than eight hours executing a search warrant at the West Main Street offices of Bernard Meiterman and Meiterman Custom Built Homes.

Friday, March 17, 2006. OH, KY: Tony Erpenbeck Gets 20 More Years Tony Erpenbeck's threats against federal law enforcers have earned him a new 20 year prison term.

Friday, March 17, 2006. U.S.: It's time for homebuilders to get real The gulf between homebuilders' mentality and reality continues to widen.

Friday, March 17, 2006. UlS.: You and the law Patience big mistake with new home builder.

Friday, March 17, 2006. U.S.: Author urges developers to build 'not so big' Bigger, she said, is not always better.

Friday, March 17, 2006. MO: Former owner of GMAC Real Estate going to prison Authorities said that between March 1, 2002 and Dec. 2, 2004 Thurman defrauded his customers of more than $3 million.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. Letter to Editor of Professional Roofing magazine: Reader says contractors deserve litigation When I testify as an expert witness in construction failures for or against roofing contractors, the legal action usually is caused by poor workmanship.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. FL: Storm Safe action upheld "I don't know how else to say this in a politically correct way, but the crap you put these people through, you allowed a bare window to be there in the middle of a hurricane," Carusone said. "They weren't even covered by their own homeowners insurance. There's a preponderance of evidence that the workmanship was shoddy and you put the health, safety and welfare of these homeowners at risk."

Thursday, March 16, 2006. VA: Dream home is nightmare for Chesapeake family Shepard says letters to her builder, Hearndon Construction went on for months -- and weren't answered.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. PA: Sweetheart builders' bill needs veto If ever a piece of state legislation was written to favor one side in a legal dispute over workmanship, this patronizing piece of claptrap takes the prize.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. PA: PA's Attorney General says builder's "right to repair" bill is unconstitutional AG: Bill regulating homebuilder lawsuits is unconstitutional: ...Corbett said the legislation would violate a constitutional provision that bars the Legislature from limiting civil damages that a victim may recover. In addition, the legislation possibly treads on the authority of the state Supreme Court to regulate the legal process, Corbett said.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. NJ: Attorney: Greenbaum resigns, conflict stands Some 20 other property owners whose homes are slated to be taken by eminent domain and replaced by luxury townhouses and condominiums by designated co-developers - the Applied Cos., Hoboken, and Matzel & Mumford Corp., a division of K. Hovnanian

Thursday, March 16, 2006. U.S.: Shareholder firm says Lennar CEO was paid too much NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - An influential shareholder advisory group on Wednesday recommended that Lennar Corp. (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) stockholders withhold their vote from a board member, in part because of his support of executive compensation that has given the home builder's chief executive a windfall in salary and bonus awards.

Thursday, March 16, 2006. TX: Rich folks give to Republicans Nevertheless, none of the 19 billionaires come anywhere close to matching the state's two largest individual donors – San Antonio pro-voucher conservative James Leininger and Houston homebuilder [b]Bob Perry[/b] – in campaign dollars, which might explain why they're on the Forbes list and Leininger and Perry are not.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. MN; National interest: KOOTENIA HOMES DECISION AFFIRMED The Kootenia Homes case involved a dispute between a homebuilder, Kootenia Homes, and its general liability insurers, Federated and Cincinnati, over which insurer's policies covered Kootenia Homes for claims asserted by homeowners against Kootenia Homes for defective construction (including primarily defective application of a stucco exterior) that resulted in water infiltration that damaged their homes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. OR: Task force taking testimony on construction woes Complaints to the state about shoddy construction have increased sharply during the past several years, and state officials want to know why.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. PA: Bill on contractors hits a snag Pa.'s attorney general said the measure, aimed at resolving builder-homeowner disputes, violates the state constitution. ... Among others calling on Rendell to veto the bill are two Philadelphia officials: City Councilman Jim Kenney and Lance Haver, the city's director of consumer affairs.
In a joint letter to the governor last week, Haver and Kenney said the bill would make it harder for many consumers to win a fair resolution of disputes. At the same time, they said, it "fails to address basic consumer concerns," such as the need to find reliable contractors, or to be assured that contractors are required to carry proper insurance.
"As it stands now, the commonwealth requires every beautician, hair stylist and barber to be licensed, but not home contractors," their letter to Rendell said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. NY: Family buys brand-new, uninhabitable home Dana Blanchard first realized something wasn't right with his new home when he started to hang curtains and couldn't find a stud. [HADD advises home buyers to have NEW homes thoroughly inspected, too, and this is just one of many articles that illustrates why. --Ed.]

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. U.S.: The Horror Show of the Housing Industry In brief, the rapidly weakening housing market, as one investment newsletter sees it, could turn into a housing horror show before year end.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006. U.S.: More Americans are losing their homes Risky borrowing is catching up with a number of homeowners across the U.S. Foreclosures rose 45% in January compared to a year ago, and experts only expect the pace to accelerate.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. National interest: Ruling Seen to Stem Defect Lawsuits Homeowners at Sun City MacDonald Ranch may have a long wait before they get any faulty plumbing fixed by Del Webb in the wake of a recent Nevada Supreme Court decision, a Las Vegas attorney said.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. FL: Residents, lawyers cheer condo court decision But several hundred residents of one Miami condominium community had something serious to celebrate on Feb. 25: settling a lawsuit with Walt Disney Co. and Arvida/JMB Partners that had dragged on for a decade.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. TX: How did worrisome bill get on path to becoming law? If Rendell signs H.B. 1467, anyone who buys a new home or condo, adds a new den or kitchen, or even builds a new garage or a $2,000 deck, will be affected. Don't be snookered by its title: the Residential Construction Dispute Resolution Act. For consumers, the title is as good as it gets.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. NV: Beazer Homes trial gets underway People living in Summerlin's Vista del Oro subdivision are suing their builder over construction defects that have cost some their homes, their health and their retirement dreams.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. NV: Buying a condo conversion in LV? It's caveat emptor Homebuyers may see a newer looking product, but dripping pipes and electrical shorts may lurk unseen behind the walls.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. AL: Hurricane bills go before state House McMillan's bill, meanwhile, would create a new crime of home repair fraud.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. PA: Nazareth builder accused of theft Michael Caprista operated under names such as All Valley Builders & Remodelers, Homeowners Choice Construction, Hometown Builders, Lehigh Valley Builders and Remodelers, and Sharp Image Home Remodeling Co.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. U.S.: Speaking truth or crying wolf? Greenspan dismissed the global bubble, telling Congress it was just a little "regional froth." Happy-talk, while our housing and mortgage industry has been taking advantage of naïve home buyers and sellers with loose underwriting practices: Low-interest home equity loans, and interest-only, low-equity loans feeding housing price inflation.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006. U.S.: How Much are Execs Really Paid? Larry Mizel, CEO of home builder M.D.C. Holdings (MDC ), earned a 2005 bonus of $20.5 million.

Monday, March 13, 2006. FL; National interest: Home prices have to stop rising The real-estate frenzy was propped up by low interest rates and creative financing techniques.

Monday, March 13, 2006. PA: Consumers could lose clout with lousy contractors A bill awaiting Gov. Rendell's signature ultimately would make it more difficult for consumers to find recourse when their contractor delivers a home-remodeling or building-project nightmare.

Monday, March 13, 2006. PA: Urge Pa. governor to help homeowners Letter to Editor from president of the PA Builders Association. [HADD disagrees with this builder's opinion. --Ed.]

Monday, March 13, 2006. PA; National interest re: builders' "right to repair" legislation in many states: Consumer Watch: Shoddy work on House Bill 1467 If Rendell signs H.B. 1467, anyone who buys a new home or condo, adds a new den or kitchen, or even builds a new garage or a $2,000 deck, will be affected. Don't be snookered by its title: the Residential Construction Dispute Resolution Act. For consumers, the title is as good as it gets.

Monday, March 13, 2006. TX; National: Housing slowdown manifesting itself The Commerce Department reported that January sales of new single-family homes fell 5 percent, the fourth decline in seven months, and the backlog of unsold new homes hit a record.

Monday, March 13, 2006. NC: Project Homestead wiggles off the hook Henderson said Thursday there wasn't enough to justify charging anyone in connection with bilking Greensboro taxpayers out of $500,000. Sloppy bookkeeping, poor memories and widespread deception essentially have paid off in a free pass for wrongdoing.

Monday, March 13, 2006. U.S.: Problems with newly built homes cause grief Buyers may suppose that if a home is new, it doesn't need inspecting. New homes can have defects even though there were just built.

Monday, March 13, 2006. U.S.: Alternatives to walking away from a mortgage Many people have taken advantage of the seemingly endless increases in home values by taking out home equity loans and lines of credit. For those who overdid it and used up all their equity, or worse borrowed up to their limit with high loan-to-value loans, or negative amortizing mortgages, many could be facing situations similar to your own if housing prices fall or are flat in their areas.

Monday, March 13, 2006. U.S.: Title Insurance Fraud on the Upswing At least ten states are investigating alleged title insurance fraud. These investigations involve not only a number of America's top title insurance companies but two super-size lenders, a national real estate company, and a large number of large homebuilding corporations.

Monday, March 13, 2006. Canada: Canadians for Properly Built Homes Canadian organization similar to HADD

Monday, March 13, 2006. Canada; of U.S. interest: Conservative Party of Canada response to enquiry from Canadians for Properly Built Homes The Conservative Party of Canada believes that all homes built in Canada should be structurally sound and safe for their residents.

Monday, March 13, 2006. TX: Donor shapes GOP in Texas He is not the state's single largest individual political giver. Not counting self-financed candidates, that distinction falls to Houston home builder Bob Perry, according to Andrew Wheat, a policy analyst for the campaign watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.

Sunday, March 12, 2006. National interest: Home or headache? Before you buy, get it inspected Such inspections are even more important now, since the Legislature recently passed a bill that creates a uniform residential home building code for all newly constructed homes. [Not an endorsement for any companies mentioned in article. --Ed.]

Sunday, March 12, 2006. TX: Pro-voucher jillionaire's just part of bigger problem Perry gave $3.8 million to Texas Republican candidates and causes during the 2002 election cycle. In 2003, the GOP-dominated Legislature created the Texas Residential Construction Commission, a new state agency stacked with homebuilders, which gives the industry additional protections against consumer lawsuits.

Sunday, March 12, 2006. GA; National interest: Illegals change the homebuilding industry Shafer, a third-generation home builder, scribbled his rage onto a scrap of Sheetrock and pointed the makeshift sign toward traffic on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. "Help Support Illegal Aliens," it read. "Buy a New Home Here in Georgia!"

Saturday, March 11, 2006. Gulf Coast: Contractor bilked us, residents charge But that, the Candebats said, was well before Turner and his partners made off with $48,000 of their money and left their home a hodgepodge of broken slabs, unfinished brick work, faulty electrical wiring and missing fixtures.

Friday, March 10, 2006. MI; National interest: Home builders are barrier to energy efficiency Home builder Lee Kitson (Viewpoint, Feb. 16) has stated his desire for less regulation. However, we all need the Michigan Home Builders Association to "get out of the way" of more energy efficient housing - now!

Friday, March 10, 2006. KS: Local contractor cheated customers, state says in lawsuit Atty. Gen. Phill Kline’s office last week filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against Douglas County resident Brian Blevins, owner of Central Plains Construction

Friday, March 10, 2006. PA; National interest re: 'right to repair' legislation: A shoddy piece of work A bill touted by the building industry as a way to reduce legal disputes over botched work by builders and contractors actually may force consumers to lawyer up to protect themselves.

Friday, March 10, 2006. CA: Roofing company charged with workers' comp fraud Paul Frederick Mayer and David Gordon Archer, owners of Mayer Roofing, were charged with allegedly scamming a state workers' compensation program out of nearly $4.5 million.

Friday, March 10, 2006. NC: No charges in Homestead investigation Guilford County's district attorney said Thursday he lacks enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime in the Project Homestead housing scandal, which cost taxpayers as much as $500,000.

Friday, March 10, 2006. TX: Late funds altered House races On Feb. 17, the Texas Opportunity PAC received contributions of $25,000 each from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Houston developer Michael Stevens. Bob Perry, no relation to the governor, and his wife give about $4 million per election cycle to GOP causes, according to the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. A spokesman said Bob Perry gave an additional $25,000 after his first donation.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. U.S.: Mulch From Hurricane Zone Could Carry a Nasty Surprise Homeowners buying mulch to put around shrubs and foundations should make sure they know where the wood originated. Officials in Louisiana say mulch made from trees knocked down during last summer's hurricanes could contain a nasty scourge – Formosan subterranean termites.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. National: Ask the Experts Q & A column discussing OSB, house wrap, flashing, etc.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. NC: Dream home is a nightmare The house had water problems that were never adequately repaired, causing mold to grow in the crawl space, according to a lawsuit.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. National interest: Lack of Damages Does Not Bar a Lawsuit over Cladding A developer may sue the manufacturer of a exterior insulation finish system (EIFS) product for the cost of removing and replacing the synthetic stucco based on a defective design claim under Connecticut law even though the there was no damage to any of the homes, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. FL: Seminar puts spotlight on building contractor fraud Licensed contractors attending the seminar said the problems are real.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. FL: 22 nailed in sting, accused of lacking licenses For three days, unlicensed contractors filed into a South Miami-Dade house, offering to do repairs for a naive husband and wife. As soon as they agreed to do the work, they were led to a backroom where police waited to arrest them.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. NY: Contractor sentenced for lying about kickback scheme A contractor avoided prison time for giving city housing officials kickbacks in exchange for federally funded contracts, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. National: Don't expect the consumer to keep this market going What concerns us is how 43% of first-time homebuyers across the country bought properties with no-money down mortgages. Plus, what about all those adjustable-rate deals? There have been 14 consecutive interest rate hikes. And additional increases will follow. To be sure, rates did originate from an artificially low level. Still, these types of loans with rising rates place the consumers and the economy in an extremely vulnerable position. In actuality, the combination of those leveraged obligations and the increase in borrowing costs make the level of interest rates much higher than the quoted figure.

Thursday, March 09, 2006. NV; National interest: Building their cases Legislation sought to clarify whether home defects can be grouped in class action

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. NE: Benchmark Homes Declares Bankruptcy Benchmark Homes of Omaha filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. The company said on Wednesday that the option is the best way to get out from under the thousands of liens filed by contractors in the last couple weeks.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. Gulf coast: Homeowners Hit by Hurricane Rita Lose Again to Contractors The elderly seem to have taken the brunt of contractor scams.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. OH: Ohio Sues Primax Windows for Consumer Violations Acting on complaints from 18 Ohio consumers, Attorney General Jim Petro filed the lawsuit in the Allen County Court of Common Pleas against Primax Window Specialist, Inc., formerly located in Elida, Ohio, and owner Richard Thompson of Lima for numerous violations of the state's Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Home Solicitation Sales Act.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. CA: Richmond leaves open issue of report on toxic site The Richmond City Council put off approval Tuesday of a controversial environmental report that would allow the construction of 269 residential units on a highly toxic, waterfront site.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. WA; National interest, series on secrecy in courts: Changes take aim at secrecy in courts In more than nine of every 10 cases The Times reviewed, the Superior Court judges or court commissioners failed to satisfy legal requirements for secrecy established by the state Supreme Court. [Secrecy of court records, such as possible home builder cases, could affect the quality of research home buyers can do when choosing a builder. --Ed.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. WA; National interest: Series on secrecy of court records: The cases your judges are hiding from you Document after document, file after file, has been sealed — and sealed improperly — by the judges and court commissioners of King County Superior Court. [Court records are an important research tool for deciding which companies to do business with and are supposed to be public record. --Ed.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. LA: Rebuilding to be Hurricane Resistant Not every precaution is expensive, hurricane clips run about fifty cents each and Trahan says that's a cheap investment considering it will help hold your roof on. [News article posted for informational purposes only; not an endorsement of anyone named in the article. --ED.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. AL: Loophole may allow non-licensed builders to enter system According to Nelson, obtaining a license is important because it provides the homeowner with the ability to hold their contractor accountable.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. National: Mortgage Fraud news News articles posted almost daily on mortgage fraud cases.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006. Article from AARP worth a repeat: Small Print, Big Trouble When you sign up for a credit card, enroll in a health plan, buy a car, redo your kitchen or take a new job, chances are you're signing away your rights. Buried in the fine print of many contracts lurks a legal loophole: a binding mandatory arbitration—BMA—clause.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. National: Bankruptcy law shows you get what you pay for The experts -- bankruptcy judges, attorneys, academic researchers -- warned lawmakers that most consumers seeking bankruptcy protection are not guilty of reckless shopping sprees. They were told that employment and health issues were the dominant factor. [Serious construction defect cases have ruined families financially, too. --Ed.]

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. WI: Construction exec facing prison accused of staging crime A former Milwaukee area construction industry executive is accused of staging his own mugging to delay his sentencing on fraud charges.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. PA: When one-sided legislation flies under the radar [Right to Repair, the builders' legislation] When you hear what the bill does, you probably won't think that passes the guffaw test. This is a bill that aggressively tilts the playing field in favor of builders and contractors.
What it doesn't do is important, too: anything to help the thousands of Pennsylvanians victimized by unscrupulous or incompetent contractors.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. AZ: Race in Mesa growing even more heated In a letter filed with the city clerk, the second in four days, Somers requests that Mesa subpoena phone records, e-mails and other files between Thom's campaign and the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Citizens for Responsible Government, among others.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. CO: Land disclosure bill misses its deadline Two homes were built on the site, and four 5-acre lots had been sold for a subdivision there, despite its listing by the Department of Ecology as a hazardous waste site.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006. PA: "Right to repair" legislation pending in PA Unhappy with House Bill 1467? Here's how to tell Gov. Rendell – it's all up to him now

Monday, March 06, 2006. TX: Interim rail chief faces ROTC teacher In December, she held a fundraiser at the Dallas home of her old boss, former Gov. Bill Clements. Mr. Perry attended the event. Reports show Ms. Jones has raised about $800,000 for her campaign. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry chipped in $100,000. Oil and gas interests, which the commission regulates, also have been big donors.

Monday, March 06, 2006. National interest: Customers of 'Extreme Makeover' builder upset over delays ABC television's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition later this month will feature a Royal Palm Beach builder's speedy construction of a cancer-stricken man's home for free, but the builders' customers say the company needs a makeover of its own.

Monday, March 06, 2006. PA; national interest re: builder-promoted "right to repair" legislation that is in many states: Consumer Watch | Stealth Pa. bill favors builders, contractors Chances are, you don't know anything about this stealth legislation, suddenly on the brink of becoming law after a multiyear push by the building industry and not one formal public hearing.

Monday, March 06, 2006. RI, CT: Builder loses R.I. license Rhode Island officials have suspended the license of a contractor, who three Eastern Connecticut families say continues to haunt them.

Monday, March 06, 2006. NH: Case of the missing contractor When it comes to building construction, thorough research is invaluable ... He has since started his own website (voicenh.bravehost.com) that gives advice for homeowners looking for a contractor. [Be sure to check the free downloadable documents, link on HADD home page, for more on researching contractors.]

Monday, March 06, 2006. From Inman.com, real estate news, Robert Bruss column: Mediation, arbitration favored in solving real estate disputes As a lawyer, my personal opinion is that it is fine to agree in a real estate sales contract to mediate any disputes that later arise between the parties. However, I do not favor agreeing in advance to give up important legal rights and to arbitrate future disputes.

Sunday, March 05, 2006. TX: State rep. finances listed [This is just plain sickening] One contributor, Houston builder Bob Perry, has given incumbent State Rep. Larry Phillips $27,000, almost more than his challenger, Charlie Williams’ total collections.

Sunday, March 05, 2006. TX: Texas Watch calls for reforms to the Texas Residential Construction Commission Texas Watch, a non-partisan advocaty organization has called for reforms to the newly created Texas Residential Construction Commission. They have provided an easy to use method to contact your state representative. Please take a moment to call on our elected officials to reform this commission.

Sunday, March 05, 2006. TN; National interest: More Oversight Needed of Home Builders Licenses must not be granted to the incompetent, financially impaired, or the dishonest.

Sunday, March 05, 2006. PA: Developer admits harassment Monroe man had been charged with assault on a prosecutor.

Sunday, March 05, 2006. MA: New homeowners accuse developer of shoddy work Foley is one of several residents at a recently completed 26-home development located on a steep loop in West Fitchburg, Benjamin Estates, experiencing physical problems with their brand-new homes, they told the Sentinel & Enterprise.

Saturday, March 04, 2006. TX: Leininger Clan Injected $3.1 Million Into Texas Politics in Last 5 years From 2001 through 2005, Leininger’s family contributed more than $3.1 million to conservative PACs and Republican candidates in Texas, second only to Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, whose family spent $11 million in that period. This spending reflects Leininger’s agenda, which includes vouchers, home schooling, weaker tort laws and abortion restrictions.

Friday, March 03, 2006. U.S.: DeLay, Burns, Linked to Abramoff, See Gifts Surge DeLay's fund-raising momentum hasn't stopped this year: He brought in large contributions from supporters even after his Jan. 7 announcement that he wouldn't seek to regain his House leadership post. In February, the National Association of Home Builders Political Action Committee gave his campaign the maximum $5,000, and the American Bankers Association PAC gave his campaign $2,500, FEC figures show.

Friday, March 03, 2006. WA; National interest: Condo cases [Sent by a reader, who commented: "They have never collected from the insurance company -- it is on appeal and in the meantime several families have had to let their condo go to foreclosure because they couldn't afford the special assessment to repair and they couldn't sell for enough to pay off the mortgage." --Ed.]

Friday, March 03, 2006. WI, MN, IA; National interest: Spring Grove man brings thermo imaging home Special camera is new tool in home inspection business. [Not an endorsement; HADD is posting this news article for informational purposes only. --Ed.]

Friday, March 03, 2006. FL: Sneak attack on Kreegel serves as a dark lesson An organization called Floridians for Integrity in Government paid for the fliers. FIG is controlled by the Florida Home Builders Association, which had more than $1 million to spend on the 2004 election.

Friday, March 03, 2006. FL: Developers could tax residents "I don't think we ought to be in the business of allowing developers to take over governmental roles," said Sen. Robert Brown (D-Macon).

Friday, March 03, 2006. OH: Dominion Homes has new president [Jeffrey Croft, formerly of Pulte] That move came amid an audit of Dominion’s lending practices by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD investigation and inquiries by the Ohio attorney general and lawsuits filed by Dominion home buyers are pending.

Friday, March 03, 2006. CO: Requiem for a dream home When he describes his impression of Franklin now, after winning a $3 million dollar civil suit against the man, the words he uses are “liar,” “thief,” and “con artist.” Richard, his wife Sheri, and others who dealt with Franklin, owner of the now defunct companies Franklin Construction and Wellington Builders, feel virtually the same way.

Thursday, March 02, 2006. MA: Contractor pleads guilty to bribery in housing authority scandal The Republican newspaper reported that Katsounakis is expected to testify against Asselin and his family members who are charged with stealing more than $2.5 million from the housing authority over the past decade. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to charge Katsounakis in at least 22 additional bribery and fraud cases.

Thursday, March 02, 2006. SC; U.S.: Language is stumbling block in protection of wetlands "Lots of conservationists throughout the state are holding our breath on this case," said Nancy Vinson, a water-quality manager with the Coastal Conservation League, a watchdog group. "If things go horribly wrong in the Supreme Court, we could see a lot more filling in of wetlands in South Carolina. In areas with high growth and a lot of low land, you could see a lot more flooding of neighborhoods and streets."

Thursday, March 02, 2006. OH; This article bears reposting: Dominion’s defaults to become less visible Deal with Wells Fargo means failed loans won’t be traceable on database

Thursday, March 02, 2006. WI; National interest: Home remedy for disputes "Twenty-seven other states have "right to cure" laws, according to the Wisconsin Builders Association, which lobbied for the idea here." [Beware of these type laws which are written by, and for, home builders' protection, despite builders association claims they are good for consumers. --Ed.]

Thursday, March 02, 2006. NY: Law and Order (Legal Q and A Column) The Housing Merchant Implied Warranty permits the builder or seller of a new home to exclude or modify all other warranties, provided that the buyer is provided with clear and conspicuous terms contained in the written contract or agreement of sale that call the buyer's attention to the exclusion or modification of warranties and make the exclusion or modification plain.

Thursday, March 02, 2006. FL: Building moratorium: Right talk, right time No one is talking about public housing projects. Still, upscale builders shun mixed neighborhoods. But upscale residents depend on a workforce that has to live somewhere. The county has to avoid a solution that allows continued ghettoization. If builders have a better solution, suggest it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006. PA: Bitter Republican primary campaign has River Oaks residents on front line Campaign finance reports released this week showed that Geren has raised more than $364,000 and Hatley more than $242,000. Of Hatley's total, $174,278 came from a committee that funnels Leininger money to candidates, and $62,500 came from Houston home builder Bob Perry, a key GOP donor who helped fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's opposition to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004. Brown has raised more than $30,000.
"Why are these people in San Antonio wanting to run our district?" Earwood asked. "It's money people not even in our district trying to take over.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. NV; National interest: Nailing the door shut on class action Clark County homeowners are finding it more difficult to band together to sue builders in construction-defect cases as judges increasingly force the homeowners to wage tougher, potentially costlier, legal battles.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. OH: Dominion shifts gears on loans Faced with investigations and lawsuits over its moneylending practices, Dominion Homes Inc. is calling on Wells Fargo to help provide mortgages to its customers.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. WY: Court selects jury for Schuler fraud trial Prosecuting and defense attorneys offered hints about their strategies for the two-week credit card fraud trial of construction company president Clint Schuler as they questioned prospective jurors on Monday.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. MT: He put the con in construction Interviews and documents paint a portrait of a construction contractor [Brad Franklin] who oversold his expertise, padded his work expenses, did not pay his suppliers and subcontractors, spent customers’ money for his personal use, and juggled his assets so creditors could not get their money.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. AZ: Home builders unafraid to raise prices Weaker market not a deterrent

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. FL: Builders sue over low-cost housing Richard said the civil suit, filed in 2nd Judicial Circuit Court, seeks to halt an "inclusionary" ordinance that went into effect last October.

The ordinance, passed unanimously in April 2005, seeks to have any development in the city with 50 or more single-family or multi-family homes to have 10 percent of those homes priced at no more than $159,378.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. MI: Union officials convicted DETROIT -- A federal jury on Monday convicted the head of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and the former president of the union on federal corruption charges in U.S. District Court.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. FL: Builder ordered to pay customer Rick William Goff sighed and stormed out of the room Tuesday after the Punta Gorda Building Board ordered the builder to pay restitution to a customer. Angry customers jumped up and followed him, shouting: "They're not done yet!"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. OH, National: Dominion’s defaults to become less visible Deal with Wells Fargo means failed loans won’t be traceable on database: A plan to spin off Dominion Homes’ mortgage division will make it impossible for the public to continue tracking the embattled home builder’s loan defaults.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. National: CDC mold report Mold: Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. National interest: A Fool's Economic Paradise Billions of dollars were pumped through the bank accounts of shady speculators and even shadier developers, for housing developments and commercial buildings for which there was no demand. Many of those developments went bankrupt and were later simply torn down.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. National interest: Arrests here shine light on illegal workers at building sites Behind farming and cleaning, construction ranks third in the concentration of illegal immigrant workers in the nation, he said.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006. TX: Legislators chafe over voucher backer's huge donations to rivals Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the state's biggest political contributor, has pumped, all together, $115,000 into the candidacies of the Leininger-backed candidates in Fort Worth, Lubbock and Longview. A spokesman for Mr. Perry has said he looks to business-related issues, not vouchers, when judging candidates – and isn't acting in concert with Dr. Leininger.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006.6NEWS Investigators: Home sick home pt. 3 King investigated for mold in three different houses at Hunter Oaks. The same houses where whole families got sick. The same houses Ryland homes bought back from the families for more than $1 million. The same houses where Ryland told 6NEWS the mold was limited.

Monday, February 27, 2006. TX: District 99 race heating up Geren is one of a handful of incumbent Republican House members under fire from San Antonio millionaire James Leininger for trying to amend a Republican Party plan for school vouchers in the past legislative session. Geren's campaign says that Hatley was recruited by Leininger, who along with key GOP donor Bob Perry, has donated more than $75,000 -- the bulk of the money in Hatley's campaign treasury.

Monday, February 27, 2006. TX: Appointee facing his first judicial race The money has flowed in with the endorsements. Willett's campaign has taken in about $596,000, with contributions from Texas' biggest law firms, home builders, oil company executives, beer distributors and restaurant owners, campaign reports show. Texans for Lawsuit Reform has donated $25,000, and several of its backers - home builders David Weekley, Bob Perry and Jack Perry - gave $5,000 each. Leininger also gave Willett $5,000.

Monday, February 27, 2006. National interest: Battle mold with proper knowledge of construction Prevention is always better than the cure.

Monday, February 27, 2006. FL; National interest: Passing ethics reform Kreegel sued for defamation, and uncovered the real backers of the attack:

The Florida Home Builders Association and their political consultant Randy Nielsen.

The builders wanted builder-friendly Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, to get the powerful position of 2008 House Speaker.

Monday, February 27, 2006. PA: Wall still moving; solution stalled Neighbors warned that the unstable wall posed a serious safety hazard and asked the homebuilder, Gambone Bros. Construction Co., to take the wall down and rebuild it. Instead of tearing it down, the builder repaired the damaged parts of the wall.

Sunday, February 26, 2006. TX: Tarrant GOP race big-money contest During the most recent reporting period, Mr. Hatley listed more than $62,000 in campaign finance donations. More than $50,000 came from Dr. Leininger or the committee. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry also donated $10,000.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. National interest: U.S. officials examine down-payment programs Charities that route down payments from sellers to home buyers have piqued the interest of the Internal Revenue Service. A day after a second class-action lawsuit challenged the way Dominion Homes handles customers’ down payments, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said his agency is examining the tax-exempt charities.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. GA; "right to repair law" and similar builder legislation: Fix bills that work against homeowners Two years ago, members of the Georgia General Assembly, at the behest of builders, overwhelmingly approved legislation with elements that appeal to conservatives concerned about frivolous and impetuous litigation. The aim was to induce condo and homeowner associations to give builders and developers a chance to fix construction defects before filing suit. Common sense? Sure. But no sooner had the bill been signed into law than a monumental flaw became obvious.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. FL: Pruitt defends ties to home builders association, consultant Although Pruitt said he gave the money to the Home Builders, state and federal filings show he actually transferred the $36,000 to the Florida Freedom Council, a political committee linked to a Jacksonville home builder. The next day, the Florida Freedom Council transferred the same amount into a political committee account controlled by the Florida Home Builders Association. That committee and a related committee also controlled by the Home Builders spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads targeting legislative candidates, including Kreegel in 2004.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. FL: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/politics/content/state/epaper/2006/02/25/a22a_pruitt_0225.html Although Pruitt said he gave the money to the Home Builders, state and federal filings show he actually transferred the $36,000 to the Florida Freedom Council, a political committee linked to a Jacksonville home builder. The next day, the Florida Freedom Council transferred the same amount into a political committee account controlled by the Florida Home Builders Association. That committee and a related committee also controlled by the Home Builders spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads targeting legislative candidates, including Kreegel in 2004.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. AZ: Real estate investigation Cracks in the foundation and walls, gaps between the walls and windows, a mysterious "lump" on the roof, and an uneven slab.

Saturday, February 25, 2006. National: Mother Earth News; Homebuilding Pages [The "original" source for green building articles. --Ed.]

Saturday, February 25, 2006. Mortgage fraud article in Kansas City Star: Investor pleads guilty to 104 felonies At least seven other persons, including former real estate appraisers and mortgage company officials, also have pleaded guilty to roles in Barber’s schemes. “These are organized crime rings, and today we were able to get a guilty plea from the top,” said Tim Gallagher, a supervisor in the FBI’s Kansas City office

Friday, February 24, 2006. OR: Remodeler Wade McGilvra files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection Former Oregon City remodeler Wade McGilvra, who has left a long trail of unhappy customers and unpaid suppliers, sought refuge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court earlier this week. The move could enable McGilvra to regain his contractor's license and get back in business, even though the Oregon Construction Contractors Board suspended his license last summer after determining he had engaged in "dishonest and fraudulent conduct."

Friday, February 24, 2006. AR: No charges yet against Marion Co. developer Landowners who purchased land from Hopkins in the 1990s believed they were buying into an approved subdivision. A contract between landowners and Hopkins sets restrictions on the land and requires landowners to pay for maintenance on a road called Alabaster Trail. Owners later found out the subdivision never went through the complete planning and zoning board process.

Friday, February 24, 2006. U.S.: Disasters waiting to happen It may seem far removed, but the Supreme Court's decision on the reach of the Clean Water Act ultimately will play out in the nation's ability to protect its waterways from pollution and its communities from floods.

Friday, February 24, 2006. WY: Fraud trial against company president begins Monday Construction company president and former magazine publisher Clint Schuler will go on trial Monday on six felony credit card fraud charges related to work his company performed on the 303 restaurant.

Friday, February 24, 2006. National interest: Fortune ranks KB Home as #1 in most admired list One of Albuquerque's most active national homebuilders, KB Home, has earned the top spot in the home-building category for Fortune magazine's recent list of "America's Most Admired Companies." [Guess they haven't seen the FTC and HUD fines, the articles below, etc? --Ed.]

Friday, February 24, 2006. U.S.: Center for Responsible Lending Resources to help spot and prevent predatory lending

Friday, February 24, 2006. U.S.: Court reviews Mich. wetlands "If you put the poison into the tributary, it will poison the navigable water," Souter said. "All people have to do is go far enough up the tributary and dump anything they want and it would be OK. I don't think Congress intended that at all."

Friday, February 24, 2006. OH; National interest: Homeowners file third lawsuit against Dominion The company's business practices also are under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's office and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dominion's default rate on government-backed loans is twice the state and national average.

Friday, February 24, 2006. OH: Audit: GOP Fundraiser Noe Owes Ohio $13.5 Million Further investigation revealed that monies from both Capital Coin Funds I and II were used to make payments to Noe, his various companies and subsidiaries, home builders and home appliance vendors, and golfing events.

Friday, February 24, 2006. National interest: Suspect bites on chat-room sting Instead of meeting the teenager, Kelo encountered the police and was taken to jail.

Kelo, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, works for KB Homes in Indianapolis, Widner said. Police are investigating if Kelo was soliciting on his work or home computer.

Friday, February 24, 2006. National: KB Home Chief Gets $34-Million Pay Package Countless Californians have ridden the real estate wave to great riches, but few as much as Bruce Karatz.

Friday, February 24, 2006. TX; National interest: KB Home to outline owner rights Another condition of the settlement was that Oliver-The proposed settlement would be the second involving KB Home and binding arbitration. In August, the builder agreed to pay a $2 million federal civil penalty. ... Parrott transfer control to KB Home of two inactive Internet domain names that were intended to set up forums where the public could complain about the company's products.

Friday, February 24, 2006. FL: 'Bizarre' Electrocution In Central Fla. Prompts Home Builder Lawsuit One of the nation's largest home builders, its electrical subcontractors and a Central Florida county have been named in a wrongful death lawsuit after an appliance deliveryman was electrocuted in a "bizarre accident," according to a Problem Solvers investigation. An attorney for Lennar Homes told Local 6 News that new safety protocols have been put in place since the accident. The company said it is confident that the rest of the homes in the subdivision are safe.

Friday, February 24, 2006. TX: Would-be home buyers want money back from builder We found at least a half dozen people who say the same thing happened to them with the same builder. With no luck getting a refund on their own, they turned to us. So we went to the developer's office to find out why. We were told the owner was out. But within days of our visit to the offices of KNM Developers, the customers received full refunds. We wanted to know why it took our involvement.

Friday, February 24, 2006. Neb: Liens Filed After Builder Found Dead About 340 businesses filed liens against an Omaha homebuilder on Wednesday, the day after Benchmark Homes President Jack Czerwinski was found dead. Police believe he committed suicide.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. TX; National interest: KB Home settles mandatory arbitration dispute in Laredo Neither plaintiffs' nor defense attorneys were allowed to speak to the media because a term of the settlement bars them from doing so.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports wants to know: Share Your Manufactured Home Story Has your manufactured home met the dealer's promises and your expectations--or did the dealer dawdle completeing the initial installation and warranty repairs you requested? Did you pay too much for the home? Did your high cost loan eventually cost more than you could afford? Share your story...

Thursday, February 23, 2006. WV: Man sues contracting company for faulty home construction A man is suing Ohio Valley Builders for serious defects in the home which they constructed for him.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. U.S.: Property rights motivated wetlands case, lawyer says Mr. Rapanos, 70, filled in much of his land because he wanted to test the government's authority over isolated wetlands, Mr. Hopper said.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. KB Home/FTC Consent Decree Violation: KB Home to Pay $2 Million Penalty for Alleged Violations of FTC Order Under the terms of a stipulation and modified consent decree approved by the Federal Trade Commission and submitted in federal court by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), KB Home, a California-based homebuilder formerly known as Kaufman and Broad, Inc., will pay a $2 million civil penalty to settle charges that it violated the terms of a 1979 consent order with the Commission.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. TX; National: KB Home Agrees to Drop Arbitration from Warranties; another article Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Laredo in 2003 claimed that the Los Angeles-based homebuilder violated federal orders by selling home warranties that required binding arbitration as an alternative to litigation in warranty disputes. [FTC consent decree is what they are referring to. See link to FTC article. --Ed.]

Thursday, February 23, 2006. National: KB Home agrees to drop arbitration from warranties K-B Home has agreed to drop binding arbitration from its customer warranties as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement. [See earlier articles on the FTC's consent decree with KB Home that they had to stop abusing arbitration. --Ed.]

Thursday, February 23, 2006. PA: Attorney snared in web of charges against builder Allentown defense attorney John P. Karoly Jr. was charged Wednesday by the Monroe County District Attorney's Office with conspiring to help his high-profile client elude capture on a bail violation.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. NE: Home Builder Death The death of Benchmark Homes President Jack Czerwinski has dozens of contractors protecting themselves by putting their bills on public record.

Thursday, February 23, 2006. National: Mortgage Fraud Blog Today's news headlines on mortgage fraud cases.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. OH, KY: Erpenbeck Loses Latest Appeal Former Northern Kentucky homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck lost a court battle Thursday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. NY; National interest: Check mortgage fees closely The fact is, the Rochester area has seen too many of these stories — from the $60 million mortgage fraud case against builder Robert A. Amico and sons Richard Amico and Robert J. Amico to the recent convictions of a mortgage broker and the owner of a title agency who conspired to defraud more than 60 people out of more than $100,000.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. PA: Karoly arrested in Monroe builder case Karoly faces criminal conspirary and other charges. Police say Karoly communicated and provided several thousands of dollars to alleged fraudulent Monroe County home builder Dennis Slayton while Slayton was a fugitive from justice in October and November.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. From Inman.com real estate news: Oxley calls for federal title insurance investigation The head of the House Financial Services Committee has written a letter to the Comptroller General requesting that theGovernment Accountability Office investigate the title insurance industry, Inman News has learned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. National: Barry Stone column, (home inspector) Two new home problems addressed: Garage can't be used to park car; Undisclosed Leak

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. Texas: Area builder paid entire cost of TV attack on Dem financier Soros Houston homebuilder Bob Perry is the sole funding source for a $200,000 TV advertising campaign that supports Rep. Tom DeLay and criticizes Democratic financier George Soros.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. OK: Regrettable remodeling From the “In Your Corner” hotline, there is a lesson for anyone who has ever had plans to remodel their home. One Oklahoma woman says she learned the lesson the hard way and now needs Brad Edwards to go "In Her Corner."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. National interest: (Insurance involvement in) Construction Defect Case Involving Water and Mold By paying a portion of its insureds claims for property damage to their house, State Farm Insurance obtained partial subrogation rights under the homeowners policy entitling it to intervene in a construction defect lawsuit that the homeowner brought against third parties who they alleged caused the loss.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. National: Opportunity to Repair Movement Advances in States Looking for an alternative mechanism to costly litigation in resolving construction defect claims, lawmakers in numerous states — including Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — are considering notice and opportunity to repair (NOR) legislation. [Buyers beware; this type of legislation is written by and for builders and it is not consumer protection. --Ed.]

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. OH; National interest: 2 lawsuits multiply woes for Dominion "The suits are the least of their problems," said Anthony B. Sanders, a finance professor at Ohio State University. "The HUD investigation could be pretty damning."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. CT: Contractor faces fraud charges Dan McGee, 45, of New York Ceiling and Drywall, was charged with 69 counts of defrauding immigrant workers, 57 counts of failure to pay wages, 12 counts of failure to pay premium overtime and one count of first degree larceny. He was arrested Feb. 10.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. WI: [SCROLL DOWN TO ARTICLE:] "Panel to hear bill on settling builder disputes" The Right to Cure Bill (Assembly Bill 1031) is backed by Wisconsin Builders Association. It is scheduled for a 1 p.m. public hearing today in Room 400 Northeast of the State Capitol in Madison. [Beware of "right to repair/right to cure" legislation; it is written by and for builder protection, NOT consumer protection and can be very misleading! --Ed.]

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. PA: Contractors suit alleges poor work Two Poconos businesses are among 17 home improvement contractors statewide that have been sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office for alleged shoddy or incomplete work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. National interest: Yes, Virginia, there is a housing bubble We seem to be lulled into a belief that homes never depreciate, which is simply not true.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. OH; National interest: Homeowners allege fraud in Dominion suit "Since November 16, 1999 ... (the company) induced consumers ... to purchase new homes constructed by Dominion Homes at prices that far exceed the real value of the home, through a scheme of zero down payment incentives known as 'Nehemiah-type grants' and special financing incentives known as 'interest rate buy downs,'" the lawsuit says.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. OH: Audit says state owed $13.5 million from coin investment The report accuses Noe of using money from two coin funds meant to make money for the state for payments to himself, his companies, homebuilders and even for golf outings.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. FL: 'Bizarre' Electrocution Prompts Home Builder Lawsuit "When they tore down the wall, it was quite obvious what had happened," Samuel said. An electrical subcontractor for the Lennar project found 110 volts flowing through the screws of the room's mirror, the report said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. MO: Mehlville Fire District To End Home Fire Inspections Some residents claim the ordinance is a result of dirty politics. Two directors Bonnie Stegman and Aaron Hilmer received $20,000 for their campaigns from a political action committee comprised of members from the Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. FL: Lobbyists Sway Under Scrutiny Gentry, through the Home Builders' political committees, channeled $251,000 through a federal 527 committee to Floridians for Integrity in Government in 2004. Much of that money, in turn, paid Nielsen's West Palm Beach firm, Public Concepts, to run the attacks in Kreegel's race as well as attempting to influence other campaigns statewide.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. FL: Condo developer arrested in securities fraud, theft case Patrick B. Kirkland, who boasts Orlando Magic player Grant Hill as one of his neighbors, is being held at the Orange County Jail with bail set at $1 million. His secretary, Laura Wade, was being held at the jail with bail set at $250,000. They were arrested late Thursday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. U.S.: Dirty Water Both Rapanos and Carabell sought to fill in their wetlands to build, respectively, a shopping mall and a condominium complex in Michigan.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. St. Louis, MO: Development raises catastrophic flood risk, experts say Concentrated development in flood-prone parts of Missouri, California and other states has significantly raised the risk of New Orleans-style flooding as people snap up new homes even in areas recently deluged, researchers said Saturday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. National: Buyers Beware of Online Mortgage Calculators Nearly every mortgage lender offers a calculator on its Web site. Enter your income, your debts and your savings, and learn the top of your price range. But the number on the screen may be misleading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. LA: U.S. MARSHALS AND ST. TAMMANY PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE ARREST KATRINA CONSTRUCTION WORKER ON SEX OFFENSE CHARGES From U.S. Dept of Justice website

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. MI: Sterling Heights builder ordered to pay overtime Sterling Heights-based Woods Construction Inc. was ordered by a U.S. District Court judge to pay more than $311,000 in overtime back wages to 240 employees.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006. AZ: Replacement of Homestead Exemption HB2352 to restore homestead exemption rights to homeowner association owners has been stalled in The Rules Committee for over 3 weeks

Tuesday, February 14, 2006. MS: Region needs building codes We hear: "Look at this old house. They didn't have building codes when my great-grandpa built it! Look at it, it stood through both Camille and Katrina!" Yep, great-grandpa used larger heart pine lumber on an elevated foundation of larger beams, nailed together with larger nails and cross-braced, because he knew he did not want to rebuild every time the wind blew!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006. U.S.: Despite cut, Toll's pay still high Toll, chief executive officer and cofounder of Toll Bros. Inc., the Horsham builder of condos and luxury homes, is likely to rank again among the nation's highest-paid executives in 2005, despite the pay cut and a rapidly sinking Toll Bros. stock price.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006. U.S.: KB Home says cancellations up, orders down Home builder KB Home (KBH.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it may need to revise its revenue forecast for the year because of lower orders and more cancellations, reflecting the slowing U.S. home buying market and sending the company's shares down more than 1 percent.

Monday, February 13, 2006. OH: A SHABBY ‘NEW’ HOUSE FOR A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS ! My wife and I bought a new house for $500,000 in Monmouth County, New Jersey, this past December. It was supposed to be our “Dream House.” The architecture is attractive. The interior design is elegant. What was missing in our new house was the fine workmanship we had in our two previous homes in 1967 and 1971.

Monday, February 13, 2006. U.S.; MSN's Money Central: Notes from a housing bubble's bust No one is shocked when speculators and people who acted like fools get hurt in a bubble. But as I have said, the cost to society is far higher.

Monday, February 13, 2006. MO: Experts give advise on avoiding fraud Home repair is one of highest categories of complaints with Attorney General: [See our Free Downloads, link on home page of HADD.com for a document on researching builders. Do NOT assume all/any complaints at BBB's and state agencies are made public information.]

Monday, February 13, 2006. TX: Comment: Homebuyers deserve better protection In early 2003 the building industry contrived convincing tales of woe, along with millions in political action committee contributions, that persuaded some Texas lawmakers to help create the unprecedented experimental state agency. Elected officials not only complied but relied on the wisdom of the industry to write the bill and trusted them to run the agency that mandates homebuyers to pay a fee to complain about their builder, while allowing shoddy construction standards to be written by the industry.

Monday, February 13, 2006. TX: Ownership Wrongs Tremont Tower's management bars a condo owner from her own unit

Monday, February 13, 2006. TX: Local homebuilders facing scrutiny More than any region of Texas, homebuilders in the Rio Grande Valley have ignored a law that requires them to regularly renew their state registration, state officials said. ... The agency has been criticized for being too cozy with the industry at the expense of homeowners. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said recently the agency is not using much of the money it collects and does not have teeth to punish builders when they err.

Monday, February 13, 2006. FL: Campaign ploys tied to quest for top House post, suit alleges He has pursued an expensive and protracted defamation lawsuit that has pulled in some of Tallahassee's most powerful names: the Florida Home Builders Association...

Sunday, February 12, 2006. NV; "Right to Repair" legislation: Opinions mixed on construction-defect law Developers and contractors complained to Nevada Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman in 2002 that "frivolous" defect litigation was driving them out of business. Condo developer Jim Gair blamed mounting insurance costs in Las Vegas when he folded his business and moved to Hawaii. A 2003 report from the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association on SB 241 found no evidence of frivolous lawsuits and no correlation between increased insurance premiums and housing starts in Las Vegas.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. OH: Implied warranty destiny awaits high court review For almost 90 years, the law governing the implied warranty of construction plans and specifications has slowly been crystallizing into its current shape. In 2005, however, the 10th District Court of Appeals may have fractured this developing law in our state.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. National interest: YOU AND THE LAW: PATIENCE BIG MISTAKE WITH NEW HOME BUILDER That, of course, would immediately solve the problem, but Andy didn't know that common sense and problem solving just seemed too complicated a notion for “America's Home Builder.”

Sunday, February 12, 2006. National interest: Condo Boards Must Be Alert In Transition to Owner Control Many community association owners are first-time buyers, with no homeownership or business experience. But many associations are big businesses, with budgets in the millions of dollars. Unless owners get involved, learn the process and hire competent professionals, your association may be headed for disaster, financially and emotionally.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. Texas: Bentzin has money edge Republican Ben Bentzin has outraised Democrat Donna Howard in their race for a seat in the Texas House with major help from two of the Republican Party's most proficient donors, Houston home builder Bob Perry and San Antonio businessman James Leininger.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. MS: 3 on Your Side Investigates: Home Building Scams Mississippi law requires contractors to be licensed if they remodel structures over $10,000 or build for over $50,000. But we found the housing market is loaded with unlicensed, uninsured builders, breaking the law and getting away with it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. AZ & NV: Builder ITC seeks protection in dispute ITC's bankruptcy filing means proceedings in a lawsuit filed in a Nevada state court will be transferred here, said ITC's attorney, Scott Gibson, of Gibson, Nakamura & Decker.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. TX; National interest: After years of litigation, Sheffield development is approved He said the city "had a vision of fighting to defend its neighborhood or community values. Those community values are at the heart of why a city can change zoning."

The issue of what constituted a "taking," or what the city owed Mr. Sheffield for rezoning his land, was never addressed at the high court. With both sides beleaguered by the litigation, a compromise was struck, and the council approved that Monday night.
... "We beat him once, let him take us to court again," Mr. Schellinger said. "We don't need any more cracker box houses. You're setting this city up for a nightmare."

Sunday, February 12, 2006. National interest: New House leader must pick a path "In the past, he was just one more congressman. Now he's in a position to set the agenda," said Michael Fox, a Republican commissioner in Butler County, Ohio, Boehner's home district. "My suspicion is that the chamber of commerce, the home builders and the national business groups' position will get far more attention than the average voter's."

Sunday, February 12, 2006. MI; National: Title settlement to bring refunds The lawsuit, filed in 2000, claims the companies violated the 1974 federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act when they gave discounts to home builders, who are required to buy owner's title insurance, while raising the prices of loan title policies.

Sunday, February 12, 2006. GA: Widow's impeccable records help win suit over soggy yard Margaret Martin isn't the kind of woman a homebuilder might fear. The 72-year-old Grayson widow is soft-spoken and doesn't like to make trouble.

One thing Dakota Properties didn't count on, however, was the elderly woman's record keeping.

Saturday, February 11, 2006. CA: Unlicensed contractors arrested in Napa sting Police in Napa arrested seven unlicensed building contractors who showed up to bid on repairing a 121-year-old Victorian house that was damaged during New Year's weekend flooding, authorities said.

Friday, February 10, 2006. OREGON: Construction Claims Task Force This weeks's update

Friday, February 10, 2006. Kansas City area: First Magnus files Civil Lawsuit Alleging Kansas City, Missouri Mortgage Fraud Scheme According to the complaint, each of the fraudulent transactions began with the acquisition of a subject property, usually through a foreclosure sale. After acquiring a subject property, the Defendantss made or claimed to have made cosmetic repairs and quickly flipped it to an unwitting buyer at a much higher price. The repairs were often nonexistent or nominal. In some cases, buyers were not creditworthy, requiring Defendants to misrepresent buyer financial information, employment history and other pertinent financial data.

Friday, February 10, 2006. NC: Home sick home If the mold wasn't serious, why do real estate records show Ryland spending $1.7 million to buy back those houses, then spending thousands more to cover these muddy, moldy crawl spaces with thick sealed plastic.

Friday, February 10, 2006. OK: Okla. AG Reveals List of Top Ten Consumer Complaints 7. Home repair and construction - including roofing, windows and doors and tree trimming. [Please note that the article states consumers can call the AG's office and BBB for record of complaints but that both the AG and BBB have stated in writing to this editor that complaints are NOT public information. See letters on this site: http://photobucket.com/albums/b371/CommonDefects/ --Ed.]

Friday, February 10, 2006. IL: Convicted builder admits fraud this time Resnick entered his plea wearing bright yellow prison coveralls.

Friday, February 10, 2006. GA; National interest: Bill on illegal immigration set to go David Ellis, executive vice president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, said he was pleased that the bill does not contain language that would fine employers who hired illegal immigrants.

Friday, February 10, 2006. MI; National interest: State needs to increase standards for home energy efficiency -- builder Black is an advocate for tougher energy-efficiency standards in the state construction code, an issue that's being fought by the Michigan Association of Homebuilders.

Friday, February 10, 2006. U.S.: Shareholder firm advises Toll holders withhold votes NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) - A shareholder advisory firm on Friday recommended stockholders of luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) withhold their votes for a board member up for reelection, citing the robust compensation for Toll executives.

Friday, February 10, 2006. National interest: Haunted By Mold: Homeowner Seeks Relief Though the initial inspection found nothing, the structural engineers she later hired to inspect the home didn't need more than a glance to determine the dormers that had been added to the the second floor at some point were sinking, compromising the structural integrity of the roof and letting in moisture. Choma blames the structural deficiency for the mold, which she believes was deliberately hidden from her before she bought the house.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. National: Attorneys General Name Their Top Ten Builders and Contractors in top ten again

Thursday, February 09, 2006. National interest, from Inman.com: Colorado real estate probe turns up sham title cos. The title insurance industry came under an intense spotlight in 2005. The Insurance Division in February investigated nine Colorado title insurers for alleged kickback schemes said to result in overcharges to consumers. The probe sparked dozens of investigations nationwide, in Florida, Washington, Hawaii, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Washington and other states. ... The alleged kickback schemes involved sham affiliated business arrangements, or ABAs, between title insurance companies and builders.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. IN: Committee approves bill to punish home improvement scammers Penalties would increase against home repair people who scam the elderly and others under a bill a Senate committee advanced Tuesday.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. OR: Attorney General Sues Former Oregon Contractor, Announces 7 Other Actions Today's action against Boisselle follows several years of the defendant ignoring Oregon licensing laws for contractors and taking thousands of dollars in down payments from consumers for construction work that was either never performed or for construction materials that were never delivered.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. DC: Consumer affairs office open in D.C. More than a decade after the District shut down a consumer affairs office with 50 employees, city officials have resurrected the agency and sicced it on crooked building contractors and shady auto-repair shops.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. NM: AG Lists Top 10 Consumer Complaints Homeowners complained about contractors demanding payment in advance, then never completing the job — or not starting it. New Mexicans also complained about plumbers, heating repairmen and landscapers.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. NJ: Says concerns about builder cost him Mt. Olive job Township building inspector Jeffrey Del Vecchio claims he was fired because he complained that the builder of the Best Western hotel in Budd Lake didn't follow inspection protocol and that the project was passing inspections that were improperly done -- or not conducted at all.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. NY: NY Attorney General's consumer complaint list Home improvement and construction complaints were third.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. IL: Madigan Releases Top Consumer Complaint List The Top 10 consumer complaints of 2005 (figures do not reflect all complaints): [# 3 on the Illinois list is construction.]

Thursday, February 09, 2006. MI: City Official Investigated for Inappropriate Behavior Police are also investigating allegations Holzhausen pocketed nearly $6,000 of taxpayer money. Fees his department collected for soil inspections at construction sites.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. FL: Construction tops fraud complaints Builders and contractors headed the list of categories for fraud complaints filed in Florida in 2005, the state attorney general has said.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. WI: Former executive sentenced in fraud probe MILWAUKEE - A former executive of a home construction firm was sentenced Wednesday to two years' probation and six months' home confinement for his role in what prosecutors called southeastern Wisconsin's biggest fraud case.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. PA: Judge rules developer must pay for faulty AC units at Stonegate condominiums Several anxious residents of Stonegate condominiums received the good news this month: the developer of several housing units must pay for repairs to faulty air conditioning systems and damage caused by water leaks from them.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. National interest: New Home Wood Worse in Fires "The previous buildings could have withstood a bomb going off. The new construction is just not built for that," Tom Lakamp, of the Cincinnati Fire Department, told News 5's Sheree Paolello.

The problem is that the structure of new homes burns more quickly and thoroughly than older homes, making it more dangerous for firefighters and home owners.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. PA: Appointed real estate broker to oversee sales A receiver has been named to oversee the court-ordered sale of three properties owned by Brodheadsville home builder Dennis Slayton — currently jailed while awaiting trial on 52 counts of theft — to satisfy $1.1 million in debts Slayton owes a bank.

Thursday, February 09, 2006. FL: Builders offer 'insane incentives' Such scenarios are indicative of an about-face in a market that not so long ago saw hopeful buyers participating in lotteries for the chance to become new home-owners, said Mike Collins, broker and president for Century 21 Collins in Stockton.

"When the market turns down, they (home builders) reach out to the real estate agent and the consumer," Collins said. [This is posted for information only--not an ad for the builder(s)in the article! --Ed.]

Thursday, February 09, 2006. MS: Senate OK's state building codes The Mississippi Senate approved statewide building codes Wednesday but only eight coastal counties are required to adopt construction standards.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. FL; National interest: Building Homes, Building Problems [Series on shoddy construction, list of builders and complaints. An oldie but a goodie that is still thankfully online and still helpful to home buyers who are doing their "homework" before buying a new house. --Editor]

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. FL: Two Groups Sue to Halt Home Building Near Everglades, Biscayne National Parks "Our national parks deserve better protection than to be left to the whims of developers," John Adornato, of the national parks group, said in a written statement. "Development here will threaten to sever the natural connection between Biscayne and Everglades national parks."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. FL: Roof collapse exposes problems in city inspections While new buildings must be inspected before they can be occupied, building officials say it's common for contractors in St. Petersburg to finish jobs like new roofs or air conditioning systems without an inspection.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. NJ: East Hanover contractor indicted A Morris County grand jury indicted Troy R. Miller, 41, on charges of theft by deception and three counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. FL: Center for the Study of Economic Crimes Site sponsored by Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., and St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla. Info available on mortgage fraud.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. U.S.: Mortgage Fraud Blog Today's new postings from a very informative site on mortgage fraud convictions, cases, arrests, etc.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006. U.S.: Real Estate Markets Turn Chilly There's more evidence that the once red-hot real estate market is cooling rapidly.

Monday, February 06, 2006. AZ; National interest: Debate will begin on more disclosure about land fissures The lessons? Don't count on sellers, agents or developers to disclose everything, experts say.

Monday, February 06, 2006. U.S.: Mold business unregulated Nelson and other executives in the fledgling, multibillion-dollar mold inspection and remediation industry say that without some form of oversight, the business has been rife with fraudulent and incompetent practitioners.

Monday, February 06, 2006. NV: National interest re "right to repair" laws and class action lawsuits: Court gives Right-to-Repair law new teeth; State Supreme Court KOs class-action defect suits And while it could result in more claims being filed, the claim amounts will be much smaller. Legal experts, however, feel that construction-defect attorneys will now be unwilling to take on cases that require more work for smaller payouts.

Monday, February 06, 2006. TX: Bay Area Builders membership revoked by the BBB. This firm's membership in the BBB was submitted to the Board of Directors for termination because of its refusal to complete mediation or arbitration of a dispute with a customer. The Board voted to revoke this company's membership due to its failure to meet its obligations in regard to this complaint. It is an ongoing requirement of membership in the BBB to mediate or arbitrate unresolved disputes and to follow through in accordance with the agreements reached.

Monday, February 06, 2006. CA; National: Home WarranTease Though some San Diego Realtors reported a positive relationship with the warranty companies, most cautioned that the pretty picture companies paint for their clients soon washes off once those customers need help.

Sunday, February 05, 2006. ME: Bill would embolden unscrupulous builders It's time for our elected officials to stand up for the rights of Maine's law-abiding construction contractors rather than continue to constantly pander to a small group of well-lawyered contractors and their lobbyists who are constantly looking for a legislative angle in which to line their pockets with the public's hard-earned tax dollars.

Sunday, February 05, 2006. National interest: Windows should not need annual caulking to stop leaks Q:...I have asked just about everyone I know, and no one else has told me that they have to caulk their windows every year. The builder has finally said it is my problem to deal with. The builder has also told me that because we live in a flat area with no trees around the windows can't withstand the windy, driving rain conditions.........

A: What's this? Without trees, the windows will leak?

Sunday, February 05, 2006. AZ & NV: Megadeveloper refuses to sit still But Rhodes has drawn the ire of many of his home buyers. The Nevada state Contractors Board placed him on probation for a year in 1999 for failing to resolve what it said were 133 valid complaints from homeowners with construction defects. Rhodes and two other developers also were sued for construction defects in 190 homes in the Casa Linda subdivision in northwest Las Vegas, and homeowners won a $16.25 million settlement, the largest construction defect award ever paid in Nevada.

Sunday, February 05, 2006. TX: Lawmaker questions gift ruling in Ceverha case Perry's critics have accused the Legislature of creating the Texas Residential Construction Commission, which arbitrates homeowners' complaints with builders, at his request.Perry's lawyer, who wrote draft legislation to create the commission, later was named to the new agency board.

Last month, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is running for governor, said her agency's review of the commission shows it is acting as a "builder protection agency."

Sunday, February 05, 2006. TX: Sandra Bullock to flatten her £4m house of horrors The damages that Bullock won were the largest awarded in a private housing dispute in Texas. But she is still pursuing the builder through the courts, claiming that he has “hidden” many assets by signing them over to his wife.

Sunday, February 05, 2006. FL: Builder loses permit rights The county's Construction Industry Licensing Board voted to revoke Polak's permitting rights, which means the contractor and his company, America's Choice Kitchens, will not be allowed to start any new work in Charlotte.

Sunday, February 05, 2006. MA: Mold house survivors to get their day in court on April 5 Nearly three years to the day one couple purchased a duplex at 20A and B Shawnee Rd. only to lose it, their health and all their possessions, they said, to toxic mold. Now, Nancy and Rick Davis will have their day in court on April 5

Friday, February 03, 2006. CO: Construction Defect FAQ's Colorado attorney's site answers frequently asked questions about unresponsive builders, home warranties, etc.

Friday, February 03, 2006. IL: Jailed builder Resnick may be seeking suitors Right now, however, the only hand-holding he'll be doing is with fellow inmates of the Cook County Jail, where he's temporarily housed before eventual transfer to state prison.

Friday, February 03, 2006. MA: READER’S VIEW: Don’t let housing needs harm our environment A closer look at the Rappaport and Pioneer Institute For Public Policy reveals this research was funded by business groups, including the Counselors of Real Estate and The Homebuilders and Retail Lumber Association.

Friday, February 03, 2006. Oklahoma: OK Insider Besides the state legislature site, www.lsb.state.ok.us there is now "OK Insider," to look for legislation in OK, including home builder legislation like the builders right to repair bill which is back this year for about the 4th time.

Friday, February 03, 2006. MI: Site adjoining 14 Mile dump may be developed Township officials want to begin developing an area long known as a dumping ground for unsavory projects, but they're at the mercy of a landfill authority that requires cooperation from many cities.

Friday, February 03, 2006. From Inman.com: NYSE should delist Fannie Mae Thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, shares of mortgage giant Fannie Mae are still traded on the New York Stock Exchange, even though the corporation has failed to comply with SEC financial reporting requirements.

Friday, February 03, 2006. Oregon: Construction Claims Task Force 2/1/06 Updates of submitted information and resources on task force reviewing the effectiveness of the state's regulatory agency for homebuilding in which HADD's Oregon chapter is participating.

Friday, February 03, 2006. From "Ask The Builder": Construction Quality Control and Bad Home Builders Why should the homeowner who is paying for new, unblemished things be expected to accept damaged goods? [Article invites comment!]

Friday, February 03, 2006. TX: Contractor admits cheating Allstate Contractor Roland F. Villarreal, 45, of Poteet admitted Thursday that he conspired with then-Allstate Insurance Co. claims adjuster Chandler S. Bruton to defraud the company out of $1.3 million over six years for repair work on houses that was shoddy or never performed.

Friday, February 03, 2006. GA; National: Home prices out of sync with pay Idea of 'work force housing' debated

Friday, February 03, 2006. OH; National: Butler builders may face immigration pledge Home builders and their contractors "are violating the law and doing it knowingly," Fox said. "You can go to virtually any subdivision in this county and see the vans. ... It is directly affecting the ones who are playing by the rules. It prevents them from competing. Why should we create a building market where we reward the people who break the laws?"

Friday, February 03, 2006. MS: Group pushes for uniform code A group calling itself the Coalition to Build a Safer and Stronger Mississippi is urging legislators to adopt a statewide building code its members say would protect property owners from shoddy construction.

Friday, February 03, 2006. Green Building: Building Green Starts with the Land Lacking green awareness on the part of either builders or local government, an informed buyer or user who gets involved early in the building process can make a big difference in the way a subdivision, an individual house, or a commercial property respects the environment. But once a builder hacks down all of the trees and stumps and clears the development it is just a little too late.

Friday, February 03, 2006. TX: Homeowners get ally in the house Smith says he plans to introduce a bill in the 2007 Legislature to fix problems with the TRCC.
“If we’re going to spend taxpayer money on this purpose, then we have got to create an agency that actually helps homeowners that have valid complaints to resolve their conflicts,” he said.
The rap by consumer groups against the TRCC is that it was created by the powerful homebuilding industry as a way to block home buyers from initially suing builders in court. Critics say that the new commission is top-heavy with builder interests, and some of those builders are major contributors to the campaigns of Perry and state lawmakers.

Friday, February 03, 2006. National interest: The soil beneath a home You should be very concerned with the soil quality on your building lot. What you see on the surface is not indicative of what might be 10 or even 20 feet below the surface. Soil that feels firm under your feet may not be very strong.

Friday, February 03, 2006. NH: Hilltop home builder gets 2 weeks "If you approve this, you are creating a recipe for disaster based on the prior history of this gentleman,"said James Raymond. Guay's past wetlands violations at the site raise doubts about his current plans, Raymond and his wife, Jane Raymond, said. The planning board shouldn't just look at the driveway, Raymond said. It should examine the whole subdivision plan. "This has a risk . . . to publicly valued resources."

Friday, February 03, 2006. U.S.; AOL News: EPA Proposes Regulating Home Renovations Broad New Standards Aim to Prevent Lead Poisoning; All Pre-1978 Homes Affected

Friday, February 03, 2006. MN; National interest, (How does your state handle this?): A quirk in the law that could cost homeowners everything "In Minnesota, you have to sue the builder first before you can access their insurance policies," says attorney Sauro. "If you can't sue the builder because it has dissolved, then there is no recourse against the insurance companies."

"For people who are unethical, it's an escape route," says Mary Ann. "Because if they dissolve their corporation in order to avoid the warranty that should be on their product, it has made it very easy for them to do."

"Absolutely." says Reuter, who made the repairs to Mary Ann's home. "There are builders that are dissolving just for this reason, and then starting building again under a different corporation."

"I'm aware of builders that are on their third, fourth and fifth corporations," says attorney Andreson.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006. MI: Bay Harbor homeowners file lawsuit A Bay Harbor couple sued the ritzy development on Little Traverse Bay and its financiers, alleging a conspiracy to mislead potential investors in order to sell property fraught with environmental problems.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006. GA; National interest: Housing shortcuts short homeowners Quality is a very hit-or-miss proposition. It doesn’t discriminate by ZIP code, either. A Gwinnett McMansion can be just as defect-prone as an abode in a cookie-cutter subdivision or modestly priced neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006. VA: Bealeton contractor charged with fraud According to the search warrant affidavit filed here, Manassas Park Police began investigating Jonathan Daniels (aka Jon's Home Improvement) on Aug. 1, 2005.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006. National: Home warranties: Good or good-for-nothing? What's your home warranty really worth? That depends on the language in the contract and who is standing behind it..."You do not want an arbitration service that gets repeat business from your adversary," says Calvin "Kelly" Vance, a Spokane, Wash.-based lawyer who specializes in construction defect and real estate cases.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006. TX: Readers Respond: Jordan Fogal's letter re: "TRCC . . the laws of Texas are against you" "I was in the TRCC process. I now have no home and live in an apartment...."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006. TN; National interest: Hard to get a fix Walter Jowers column

Tuesday, January 31, 2006. NJ: Cracks in foundation put stress on NJ family Less than two years after they moved in, a crack appeared in the foundation, directly under Robyn Cammarata's room. More than 14 years later, a large section of the house looks ready to topple into a neighbor's yard.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006. MA: Contractor reimburses Taunton homeowner Police were seeking criminal charges against Reed, who was accused of taking $1,700 but failing to perform work.

Monday, January 30, 2006. NC: New Charges in North Carolina Builder Bailout A superseding indictment was filed in a North Carolina mortgage fraud case adding charges against home builder David L. Layton, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monday, January 30, 2006. CT; National interest: Home Improvement Complaints Increase Home improvement issues continue to generate concern and complaints from Connecticut consumers, according to the state's Department of Consumer Protection.

Monday, January 30, 2006. NY: Outraged Neighbors Uncover Solid Waste Nightmare [Ryan Homes] It found that eleven of twenty-two metals detected in soil samples were found at levels which exceed state environmental standards.

Monday, January 30, 2006. Texas: Bureaucratic deadwood. A state commission to curb homebuilder abuses proves to be a deck stacked in favor of the industry it is supposed to regulate. Given the TRCC's pathetic record of protecting homeowners, Strayhorn's criticism is long overdue. Both Democratic and Republican legislators attempted to push legislation correcting some of the defects in the previous session but were outmuscled by the homebuilder lobby.

Saturday, January 28, 2006. Texas: Texas' Residential Construction Commission Deemed A Paper Tiger The Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) is little more than a paper tiger with no authority to force home builders to comply with orders to fix new home defects -- 86 percent of home owners who've used the commission's resolution process said builders failed to fix the problem -- according to an October, 2005 Review of the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

Friday, January 27, 2006. PA: Monroe builder's holdings to be sold, judge rules Judge Jerome Cheslock said he will choose a Realtor to maintain and market the properties of Dennis Slayton, the owner of Clearview Builders, who is accused of stealing $500,000 from customers.

Friday, January 27, 2006. NC: Real Estate Investor Faces Second Federal Indictment Prosecutors say Davis and Layton orchestrated an elaborate real estate scheme involving investors, renters, buyers, sellers and home builders.

Friday, January 27, 2006. VA: Two Fugitives Sought In Southern Virginia Michael Keith faces a long list of charges, including more than 100 counts of rape in southern Virginia. He also faces fraud charges for charging elderly residents for construction projects he didn't complete, authorities said.

His girlfriend, Rhodena Sevey, is also being sought...should be considered armed and dangerous

Friday, January 27, 2006. TX: The state is looking out for home builders, not buyers the fundamental problem with the commission is that it was designed to be weak

Friday, January 27, 2006. NC: Builder charged with mortgage fraud Raleigh home builder David L. Layton has been charged in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme by federal authorities, according to an indictment released last week.

Friday, January 27, 2006. MO: Crowd rallies at Mo. Capitol against use of eminent domain "The idea that we can seize a small business, the government can seize a farm, the government can seize a private home, the government can seize even a church or place of worship, in order to increase tax revenue is repugnant," Blunt said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. TX; from Insurance Journal, which allows readers to post comments at end of article: Texas Comptroller Says Construction Commission Favors Builders The Texas Residential Construction Commission is acting as a "builder protection agency'' and has no power to force homebuilders to repair construction defects in new houses, according to state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. FL: "Check a Contractor" Service The website for a FL contractor referral service that was recently in the news is now up: http://checkacontractor.com/ Uses public records, and there is a bulletin board referring to news articles, builders with suspended licenses, and customer feedback, etc. [HADD does not endorse any product or service; HADD provides links to its readers for informational purposes only.]

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. TX: Strayhorn finds TRCC functions as Builder Protection Agency Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today found that the Texas Residential Construction Commission functions as a homebuilder protection agency and lacks the authority to enforce its own building standards.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. VA: 'The Right Stuff' Developers were swift to respond by deputizing over 100 lobbyists to hit the Capitol and let lawmakers know where the green stuff comes from.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. GA: Homebuilders Prepare For New Laws Homebuilders around the state are getting ready for new state requirements that mandate that residential contractors be licensed to do business in the state.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. MI: Land-use ruling may decide fate of wetlands At stake is not only valuable habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife - but also some important acreage that helps with flood control and with preventing runoff pollution from entering rivers, lakes, and streams.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. PA: Judge: Bank can sell Slayton properties A judge has agreed to a request by Pennstar Bank to sell three properties owned by Dennis Slayton to satisfy debts the Brodheadsville home-builder owes to Pennstar and other creditors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. US: Study Finds Builder-Buyer Disconnect New home buyers start their research much earlier and take far longer to sign a contract than builders tend to think, according to new research.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. Washington Post; VA: Mr. Kaine's One-Two Punch The response by home builders -- the governor's plan would mean "death" for the industry, their chief lobbyist grimly declared -- is hysterical.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. Washington Post: The Cost of a Fight In the tradition of citizen activism, the Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee took on the powers that be -- in this case the developers and builders of the new community of Clarksburg. In the process the group turned up evidence of slipshod work by the county's own planning and oversight agencies that seemed to have allowed the developers to cut corners, including building some homes too tall and too close to the street.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. RI: Builder charged with bilking client out of $1,400 "It's definitely been a rude awakening," said McGuinness, 44, a contractor who also works at a local Home Depot. "I was naive -- you don't think it can happen to you."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. U.S.: Unraveling the Pyramid The former head of FHA said it is time to change the way appraisals are ordered

Wednesday, January 25, 2006. MO: Former title company executive sentenced to six years in prison Thomas B. Kurzenberger Jr., former vice president of Title Insurers Agency Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in November, admitting he took $2.7 million.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006. TX; Houston Chronicle: Builder oversight agency blasted A state agency created three years ago, purportedly to regulate home builders, is nothing more than a "builder protection agency" and should be abolished, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said Monday.

Monday, January 23, 2006. Texas: Comptroller Rylander nails Texas Homebuilders Commission Today Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander issued a very stern review of the Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC pronounced "trick") which was to help homeowners with construction defects. "After reviewing the TRCC and its enabling statue, it is clear that the agency functions as a builder protection agency." states the report.

Monday, January 23, 2006. FL: Homeowners still waiting for storm repairs spew complaints Frank Polacek is facing criminal and civil charges as a general contractor who takes the money and runs. But homeowners checking out his credentials with local and state regulatory agencies won't find obvious red flags.

Monday, January 23, 2006. TX: Land developer sees grounds for battle In a feud involving more than a dozen lawsuits filed against City Hall, Schaefer won a key property-rights battle in November that city officials fear could make it easier for developers to skirt city codes.

Monday, January 23, 2006. NJ: New law on home repairs is a stopgap To correct the oversight, the Legislature voted to suspend the scheduled November 2004 implementation date for 14 months, and use the extra time to come up with a bonding or insurance plan that would do what sponsors intended.

Unfortunately, the bill's chief sponsor, Anthony Impreveduto, D-Secaucus, was forced out of the Assembly in 2004 after pleading guilty to misuse of campaign funds, and the revisions never came.

Monday, January 23, 2006. AL: Grand jury: Set standards in dealing with developers A Baldwin County grand jury that indicted Orange Beach's mayor and three others on corruption charges recommended that the Alabama Legislature set standards for cities to deal with developers, particularly on the Gulf Coast.

Monday, January 23, 2006. OH: Authorities say more meth addicts turning to identity theft to pay for it Blomquist was running a legitimate construction business in Eastlake, with up to 15 workers at any given time. But when he needed to pay for tools and other items, he'd often steal to get them, investigators say.

Monday, January 23, 2006. SC: Sheriff's Office investigating claim of building-permit fraud The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is investigating a claim that a developer of Pine Forest Village in greater Bluffton fraudulently obtained building permits, according to an incident report.

Monday, January 23, 2006. DC, VA: 20 years for fake contractor in fraud scheme At today's sentencing in Alexandria federal court, the judge also ordered Oliver to make full restitution. But he's on the lam, and the FBI and the US Marshals are looking for him.

Monday, January 23, 2006. TX: Comptroller criticizes new home construction commission Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said the Texas Residential Construction Commission doesn't have the power to force homebuilders to repair defects in new houses.

She said the commission isn't enforcing builder registration laws and is shifting most of the money it raises back to the state budget -- rather than spending it to carry out its mission.

Strayhorn said if it were up to her, “I would blast this Texas Residential Construction Commission off the bureaucratic books.''

Monday, January 23, 2006. MS: Statewide construction codes good for residents Having standards for new residential and commercial buildings is extremely important to ensure the structure is sound.

Monday, January 23, 2006. AZ: Land value gap wide for gateway SCOTTSDALE - How much is an acre of land worth in Scottsdale just north of McDowell Mountain Ranch, where homes of $1 million and up are common? The city says an acre there is worth about $86,000. Luxury home builder Toll Brothers prices it at $310,000.

Monday, January 23, 2006. PA: Bail revoked for home builder who skipped hearing Capping an unusual bail hearing, Monroe County Judge Art Zulick sent Dennis Slayton back to the county prison, rejecting arguments by lawyer John Karoly Jr. that a misunderstanding led to Slayton's failure to appear at a court hearing in October.

Monday, January 23, 2006. US: Fantasy vs Reality But talk about mixed messages. In the IBS press room at the Orange County Convention Center, journalists could pick up a copy of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) report "America's Working Families: Where Will They Live?"

Apparently not in The New American Home.

Monday, January 23, 2006. FL: PSL builder's woes stick unfinished homes with liens Subcontractors for Great Bay Homes filed liens on about 50 homes in Port St. Lucie after the builder couldn't pay its bills

Monday, January 23, 2006. Washington Post: Ameriquest Settlement due next week allegations that the company overcharged and defrauded consumers, according to the sources.

Monday, January 23, 2006. Kansas City Star: You aren't home free without an indepenent inspection Too often, say experts, an independent inspection is far down the list of priorities for many homebuyers.

Monday, January 23, 2006. From Realty Times: Unsavory Homebuilders? You Decide Just a couple of columns ago I wrote a piece on a builder's contract "loophole." This loophole involved forcing new home buyers to take crappy loans or else lose their deposit. I ended with the column by stating that surely there wasn't any national conspiracy by builders to screw consumers … but then I got yet another email from another unfortunate homebuyer pleading for help.

Friday, January 20, 2006. OH, KY: More on the Erpenbeck homebuilding fraud scandal Erpenbeck files rare appeal [See earlier articles from OH and KY on the Erpenbeck cases.]

Friday, January 20, 2006. U.S.: 7 home-buying traps Blindly using your agent's inspector...

Friday, January 20, 2006. U.S.: Developers can't imagine world without eminent domain Using eminent domain for private projects has long been a divisive issue, but never more so since the Supreme Court upheld the right of officials in New London, Conn., to condemn homes and businesses to increase the tax base of one of the state's poorest cities.

Friday, January 20, 2006. TX: Bullock Tears Down Troublesome Texas Home Sandra Bullock is tearing down the Austin, Texas home that was the subject of a 2004 legal battle between the actress and a construction firm.

Friday, January 20, 2006. FL: Condos still can't be sold, judge says About 60 people who bought units at H's Resort have joined a class action lawsuit against Graham, accusing him of fraud because he canceled their purchase contracts in November and then offered to sell them the same units for a higher price.

Friday, January 20, 2006. NY: Supervisor involved in asbestos fraud gets prison time A construction supervisor was sentenced Thursday to 3-1/2 years in federal prison for his role in a massive asbestos-removal scam involving more than 1,500 buildings across New York, including schools, churches and hospitals.

Friday, January 20, 2006. U.S.: Cisneros prober says he was foiled The former Housing secretary was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, and the independent counsel agreed to drop 18 felony charges and refrain from filing further criminal charges against him with evidence gathered in the investigation.

Cisneros, chief executive officer of American CityVista, a San Antonio homebuilder, declined to comment.

Friday, January 20, 2006. FL: New firm looks to fill niche in local construction consulting Marco Bay Consulting can be contacted at 389-6768. Their Web site can be found at www.marcobayconsulting.com [Not an endorsement; for informational purposes only. Feedback on this or any company relevant to HADD or mentioned on HADD welcome on our message boards.]

Friday, January 20, 2006. From U.S. News & World Report: The home-building binge is over The once-hot housing market is definitely cooling off.

Friday, January 20, 2006. KY: Prosecutor describes home builder as dangerous predator LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A home builder from Spencer County has been described by a federal prosecutor as a dangerous predator who had sex with young girls he’d sought out on Internet chat rooms.

Michael Black of Taylorsville was found guilty of six felony charges by a federal jury in Louisville Wednesday.

Friday, January 20, 2006. U.S.: Banks Object to Plan for Fannie Mae Home Loans A plan by Fannie Mae to make $10 billion worth of home construction loans over the next 10 years has renewed calls among banks and lenders for legislation that would tighten regulation of the housing finance giant and its sibling, Freddie Mac.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006. IL: Builder sent off to prison Remodeler gets 3-year sentence for forgery, theft

Wednesday, January 18, 2006. U.S.: A glimpse of some federal legislation the National Association of Home Builders is in, for 2006 NAHB will continue to work with members in the Senate to urge them to oppose mandatory employer verification requirements and punitive penalties, and to support creating a legal guest worker program.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006. U.S.: GOP unveils lobbying overhaul; Democrats ready reply Dreier himself has taken numerous trips funded by private groups. He also has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from special-interest groups since 1989, including the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006. U.S.: The new year holds some unpromising events High energy costs, Kunstler says, will completely flatten the housing boom. He sees idle home builders, holding large inventories in subdivisions that never should have been created. Worse than that, many Americans holding so-called “creative” mortgages—no money down, interest only, adjustable rate and others—will be squashed under the financial weight of these instruments. Many will go bankrupt under the new laws that leave little chance of escaping partial repayments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006. FL: Mayor's friend wants variance to build condos on Calle Ocho Ralph Velocci, who has close ties to Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, is at the center of a hotly debated condo project on fast-changing Calle Ocho.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. National: Homeowners News at Consumer Affairs Numerous consumer articles relevant to homeownership, updated almost daily.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. FL: Roofs need valid permits More than 400 homeowners who were victims of scofflaw contractor Speigle Roofing are on their own to make sure the roofer's work can pass inspection.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. OH: Dominion hires new CFO, promises review of business practices The builder has come under the scrutiny of regulators because of a high rate of mortgage defaults by the buyers of its houses.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. New Orleans: Fatal Flaws: Why the Walls Tumbled in New Orleans The levee failures were among the most costly engineering errors in the United States, measured by lives lost, people displaced and property destroyed, said half a dozen historians and disaster experts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. MO: Missouri consumers will once again have a statewide advocacy group Organizing sessions for the new consumer council began in Bray's living room in
June, at the end of a legislative session in which legislators gave utilities
the right to more quickly adjust customer rates, removed most state regulation
over local telephone rates, and voted to make it easier for homebuilders to
avoid lawsuits for defective work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. U.S.: Giant home builders buy small companies, gain market share "In 1992, 8 percent of the market share was with the top 10 percent of builders," said Gopal Ahluwalia, head of research for the National Association of Home Builders. "In 2004, it was more than 21 percent, and it is growing."

The string of purchases appears to have been lucrative. Big builders' overall profits have more than doubled in the past 10 years.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006. U.S.: Adjustable Rate Mortgage Payments Headed Up in 2006 Harden says many people were encouraged to buy more house than they could afford through the growth of "creative" financing options.

"Even ten years ago your debt to income ratio on a standard loan needed to be about 30 to 35 percent. Now banks, in order to get more people into homes, are taking up to 50 and 55 percent debt to income ratio.

Monday, January 16, 2006. FL: Jupiter wrong target Lennar is bearing brickbats — a lawsuit aiming to coerce what it couldn't sweet-talk. Jupiter was right to resist the builder's entreaties then, and the town is right to fight the lawsuits now.

Monday, January 16, 2006. PA: Against the wall The wall fell onto Michael and Jamie Cleary's wooden rear deck at about 5 a.m. on May 10. The blocks crashed onto the deck and cracked a window. The couple was relieved that the collapse hadn't occurred during the day when their daughter Samantha, then 9 months old, might have been playing outside.

Monday, January 16, 2006. WI: Man sentenced in fraud probe A former chairman of the Walworth County Republican Party pleaded guilty to misdemeanor campaign violations in a federal probe into a phony billing scheme allegedly set up by a pair of construction executives to get money for themselves and their contacts.

Monday, January 16, 2006. OH: Dominion Homes woes prompt cutbacks Dominion’s mortgage-servicing operations are under investigation by the Ohio attorney general and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Saturday, January 14, 2006. OH; National interest: Building a home with foam At the core of Norman's energy-efficient house are insulated concrete forms, or ICFs, that make up the exterior walls.

Friday, January 13, 2006. CA: New California Law Protects Against HOA Foreclosure Previously, and unique to homeowner associations in California and elsewhere, a tough debt-collection tool called a non-judicial foreclosure has been used to take homes from owners who only owed a few hundred dollars in delinquent HOA dues.

Friday, January 13, 2006. Texas: BEFORE WE SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE! A LESSON IN REAL ESTATE CONSTRUCTION LAW By Daryl Gene Hayes, Jr. Consumers have rarely been able to hold bad homebuilders accountable for serious construction defects through the arbitration process, because the arbitration process does not establish a level playing field for consumers. The vast majority of consumers are no match against a large homebuilder’s political and economic resources. Arbitration is more successfully in business-to-business disputes where the two parties are more equal in strength, especially financial resources. The mandatory binding arbitration clause embedded in new home sales contracts takes away the only real leverage against a homebuilder, by minimizing the consequences of any potential legal action initiated by the homebuyer.

Friday, January 13, 2006. MA: The nose knows Cosmo walked past an obvious place for mold, an attached greenhouse, without a response, but went right for a basement closet, where the owner found his water pump was leaking.

Friday, January 13, 2006. NM: Clovis Man Convicted of Fraud in Contracting Case Castillo would submit proposals for construction work or painting, and when he was awarded the job, would collect the money in advance but never return to do the work

Friday, January 13, 2006. CT: Town Building Official Loses Appeal The state building inspector acted appropriately, a state committee found this week, when he directed Portland's building official to reinspect a trouble-plagued home he had declared habitable.

Thursday, January 12, 2006. National: A Future Legal Battleground: Environmental Regulation The National Association of Home Builders hopes that Samuel Alito, if confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, would help facilitate a rollback of regulations that make development more difficult. Environmental groups worry a more conservative court could place new restrictions on the federal government's ability to regulate.

Thursday, January 12, 2006. National: Nation’s Leading Risk Management Company Releases Top Builder Defect Data for Construction Industry (International Builders’ Show) -Quality Built, the industry leader in risk management and quality assurance services, today released its 2005 quality assurance data, the largest survey of quality assurance data ever tabulated for the new construction industry. The leading construction defects identified by Quality Built show that a builder’s risk losses—which largely result from failure to follow building code requirements or follow installation instructions—are preventable.

Thursday, January 12, 2006. CANADA: Canadians for Properly Built Homes In anticipation of the upcoming Federal election, CPBH identified the following six important issues relating to new homes...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. TX: Gammage's hurdle: He's a Democrat Houston home builder Bob Perry (no relation) alone has given him more than $800,000 since he became governor in 2000. The governor responded by helping create a state commission [the TRCC] to settle disputes between home builders and home buyers, and stacking the commission with builder representatives, including an executive from Bob Perry's firm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. FL: Local builder facing charges of grand theft Dalrymple was reportedly operating as an unlicensed contractor and accepted a total of $11,775 from victims in Glades County for construction work that he never did. ... If anyone has any information about Dalrymple's activities, they should call: Special Agent Raulerson at 800-226-2028; OCSO Detective Ted Van Deman at (863) 763-3117; or, Detective Steve Harris of the Glades County Sheriff's Office at (863) 946-1600.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. CA; National: TV news producer looking for help to do story about CCRs in homeowner associations [Matthew Glasser of KFMB-TV in San Diego]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task force meeting PDF PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE and AGENDA
Construction Claims Task Force
January 25, 2006, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Room 260, 2nd Floor of the Labor and Industry Building
350 Winter St NE, Salem, Oregon 97301

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. On Court TV tonight: Breaking the Mold Melinda Ballard's mold case. [This is a famous case that is often used as a poster child for "frivolous" awards for mold damages by incorrectly reporting facts of the case to make it appear the Ballards profited and/or had no real damages or no real claim to insurance coverage. To find out more watch the show and visit www.policyholdersofamerica.org ]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. PA: Monroe DA's office using new technique His motion cited four general areas for which the grand jury might be used. This includes cases of mysterious deaths, disappearances or homicides; home sale, home construction and mortgage fraud allegations; corrupt organizations and white collar fraud allegations; and drug manufacture, possession and distribution cases.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. WI: Albers wants state involved in disputes The issue came to Albers' attention, Waldrop said, when a constituent whose poorly-constructed basement collapsed and he found he had no recourse through the Department of Consumer Protection.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. FL: Builder accused of fraud On Dec. 31, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 33-year-old James Claude Heckman in Jackson, Miss.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. MS: Rebuild report released online "Home builders and developers must plan with the new flood zones in mind, and communities must pass codes that acknowledge reality," he wrote. ... The report will be released at 11 a.m. at www. governors commission.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2006. AZ: State finally may step in where feds have feared treading Only 30 Arizona employers have been fined for hiring people here illegally over the past 12 years, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement records. Not a single resort has been fined. Not a single home builder. The last time an Arizona business was fined was in 2001.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. National: Create an e-annoyance, go to jail If President Bush truly believed in the principle of limited government (it is in his official bio), he'd realize that the law he signed cannot be squared with the Constitution he swore to uphold.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. TX: Homeowners anticipate TRCC probe outcome The investigation of the agency is scheduled to be completed in the next few weeks and New 8 found most everyone News 8 talked to wanted the results made public. Whether the information will be made public, however, will most likely show just how powerful the homebuilding industry is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. CA: Newhall Land settles suit Nearly 12 years after the Northridge Earthquake caused heavy damage to the Franciscan Hill condominium complex, Newhall Land and its insurers have agreed to settle a lawsuit by residents who say substandard construction was to blame for much of the damage.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. WA, re HOA problems: Dream Demolished Know your subdivision's codes, covenants and restrictions and observe them meticulously.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. FL, re manufactured home legislation: Details Show Bad Legislation Popping Up Again It is baaaaack! The legislation that failed in the 2005 legislative session has popped up again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. DE; National interest: Secrecy gives leadership great clout Many demand legislature open itself to the public.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. MI: Judge allows mansion A man and his family will soon move into their Washington Township mansion after a judge ruled in their favor in a case that pitted them against a neighbor and the homeowners association.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006. National interest: Home builders may have another good year, but slower Darst points to the ''parabolic price increases'' of home builders -- on a chart, the line tracking their performance is practically vertical. For some bears, it's an uneasy reminder of the run-up tech stocks enjoyed before their 2000 slide. The skyrocketing pace has raised worries that housing stocks have surged beyond their underlying fundamentals.

Monday, January 09, 2006. Gulf Coast: Gulf Coast Homeowners File Class Action against State Farm A Biloxi attorney and homeowners along the Gulf Coast area have filed a class action law suit against State Farm Insurance Company, alleging the company has refused to pay for hurricane damage to their homes, even though the plaintiffs purchased "all perils" homeowner insurance.

Monday, January 09, 2006. U.S.: Waterproofers plug policy gap A trade association is starting an insurance trust that will be owned by its members and will cater specifically to the high-risk businesses of keeping basements dry and making sometimes tricky repairs to building foundations.

Monday, January 09, 2006. MA: Input sought n environmental measures WALPOLE -- The Conservation Commission will hold a final public hearing Wednesday night on two proposed environmental measures intended for spring Town Meeting.

The hearing, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in room 112 of Town Hall, will provide residents and businesspeople with an opportunity to sound off on the commission’s proposed stormwater management and erosion control bylaw, as well a companion illicit discharge bylaw.

Monday, January 09, 2006. CA: Real Estate Deals Pay Off for Insiders In one case, a charity sold property earmarked for low-income housing to a group with which it had ties. The land was then flipped for a $1.1-million gain.

Monday, January 09, 2006. FL: Mayor attends private meeting Minneola officials question gathering with developers

Sunday, January 08, 2006. MI: New home energy law delayed Builders secure court injunction to block introduction of stricter state rules. ------------ Letter to the Editor re: article: Can be found several pages in on the site's news forums:
-----------------
Posted: Sun. 01/8/06 01:29 PM
From: Nancy Seats
City: Kirkwood, MO USA
Subject: New home energy law delayed
Comments: I am President of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD www.hadd.com), a national not for profit that advocates for new home buyers who have been HADD by the builder of their home.
Home builders in every state have far more political influence through campaign donations and lobbyists than the citizens who purchase the homes have. It is WRONG that elected officials and Judges do harm to the citizens by allowing builders to lower energy standards that are in effect in most states.

Our organization has worked with many citizens in MI who have been HADD due to structural defects that builders refuse to address. There is little recourse for homeowners in MI when this happens and many families have ended up in foreclosure and bankruptcy simply because they purchased a new home.

Missing roofing felt, flashing, rebar, improper grading, as well as the improper installation of materials or the use of defective products are devastating and often lead to toxic mold.

It is common knowledge that there is a world wide energy crisis. For ANY new home to be built in any state, including MI, below accepted energy standards is criminal in my opinion.

I challenge your news staff to study the real cost of energy efficiency and the savings for families when standards are met. I do not believe the estimates quoted by Lynn Egbert, CEO of the home builders group. The NAHB and state HBA's are famous for cooking the numbers.

Elected officials and Judges have a duty to represent the citizens, not special interests so that they can add profit to the bottom line.

Sunday, January 08, 2006. TX: State agency making changes "I think the makeup of the board speaks for itself," Winslow said. "It's dominated by industry insiders, with Bob Perry's lawyer as one of the original appointees.

Sunday, January 08, 2006. OH: Home Builder Gives Back Money One of Central Ohio 's biggest home builders is giving money back to some angry homeowners who say they were lied to. The Columbus Dispatch reports the Attorney General's office is expanding its investigation into the business practices of Dominion Homes.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. NY: Builder agrees to repay duped clients Scott Marchand, whose city-based modular home firm, Wedgewood Builders, imploded in a cloud of bad debt over two years ago amid cries of fraud from clients and subcontractors, pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree grand larceny in Rensselaer County Court Friday before Judge Robert M. Jacon.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. MA: Tremont Street series wins national award The series included allegations of fraud against the developer and potential litigation by the families. Also pointed out in the series was the lack of oversight by city and state officials. Because a sewer extension was never properly hooked up to city lines, the new homeowners were evicted by the city, even though they had no knowledge of the problem when they bought their respective dwelling units.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. AR: Arkansas Business Seeks Help With Homebuilders List Arkansas Business is attempting to create a list ranking the state’s largest residential contractors.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. NJ: Corruption charges admitted OLD BRIDGE — A former township official pleaded guilty Thursday to state corruption charges, the third such plea by an Old Bridge construction official in little more than a month.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. NY: Neighbors Say Homes Were Built on Hidden Garbage Dump It found that eleven of twenty two metals detected in soil samples were found at levels which exceed state environmental standards.

Saturday, January 07, 2006. OH: State expands probe of builder [re: Dominion Homes] Their loans were secretly converted from government-backed mortgages after they signed Federal Housing Administration documents.

Friday, January 06, 2006. National: ABN-AMRO Agrees to $41 Million Settlement ABN-Amro Mortgage Group has agreed to pay $41 million for falsifying documents on 28,000 mortgages to make government-secured loans more quickly. Investigators said ABN employees forged the signatures of underwriters who were legally required to certify that each loan met federal standards.

Friday, January 06, 2006. National: Designing to avoid mold To keep moisture out of walls and roofs, you need proper cladding and flashing details, along with wall assemblies that will dry if any moisture does get inside them. But design also plays a role. According to Steve Easley, a partner in Chicago-based Building Media, a consultant and trainer, some designs are more prone to mold problems than others. Many of today's homes require complex flashing details that are easily executed by a master craftsman but that can lead to disaster when put in the hands of the average framing crew.

Friday, January 06, 2006. GA: State poised to regulate contractors Librarians and barbers must get a state license, but contractors who build or remodel homes and shopping centers are not required to.
However, that will change in 2007...

Friday, January 06, 2006. MA: Carpenters allege use of undocumented workers in development project Area carpenters are alleging that developer Hanover Company and its contractor, Samuel Lecomte’s Multi Building Inc., have used undocumented immigrant labor and evaded taxes in several projects in the region, including Villas At Old Concord Road, a condominium development off Old Concord Road.

Friday, January 06, 2006. OH: Man gets nine years in prison "I was not a captain or a ringleader. That was an unsubstantiated rumor of a gang existing outside of prison."
Blomquist went on to tell the judge he and his wife, Kim, are assets to the community who raised three children together in a tight-knit family.
He added that his Eastlake home remodeling company, AB Construction, was a successful, high-end business that employed between eight and 15 workers at any given time.

Friday, January 06, 2006. FL: Fla. may end hurricane generator reimbursement program After Wilma, South Floridians shopped for items on the FEMA reimbursement list, telling the newspaper they were buying because FEMA was paying. The newspaper found doctors, lawyers and other professionals who applied for FEMA reimbursement, including a Fort Lauderdale builder who bought a generator to chill his wine collection.

Friday, January 06, 2006. NC: Prosecutors allege romantic relationship between two builders CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Federal prosecutors have indicted a contractor on charges of conspiracy and tax fraud - and allege he illegally used millions of dollars of his company's money to further a romantic relationship with another builder.

Friday, January 06, 2006. MN: Homebuilder pleads guilty in $2 million fraud case As Bruce Bren Homes faced financial difficulties, Bren used the customer payments to support a lavish lifestyle that included foreign vacations and a pair of million-dollar homes, County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said.

Friday, January 06, 2006. CA: Sacramento pay to developer needs probe A city attorney who worked on the deal and who thinks there were illegal double payments has filed a lawsuit. The city has tried to gag this attorney, Deborah Schulte, through a proposed court order that would have prevented her "from speaking to anyone, including law enforcement performing a state criminal investigation of this matter," according to Schulte's attorney.

Thursday, January 05, 2006. CT: Battle over property rights goes on, despite ruling To property rights activists across the nation, Fort Trumbull has become ground zero in that battle ever since the high court's 5-4 ruling. These activists are using outrage over the case to spearhead a reform movement aimed at passing laws to make it increasingly difficult for local and state governments to raze homes and turn the land over to private developers.

Thursday, January 05, 2006. LA: New Orleans' old homes prove they were built to last To withstand hurricanes and flooding, her 1923 Craftsman-style bungalow - in one of the city's many historical neighborhoods - had been built with a mix of impervious materials, such as plaster, cypress, and slate.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. TX; National interest: Homebuilder review draws debate Consumer groups have long sought a review of the two-year-old state agency that regulates home builders, claiming it favors the industry over homeowners.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. U.S.: PDF explaining some forms of real estate scams Builder Bailout Scheme
Builder bailouts occur when the builder or developer is
motivated to move property quickly in a depressed real
estate market. Some of the following red flags may
occur in builder bailouts:
• The builder is willing to "do anything" to sell
property.
• The borrower is barely qualified or unqualified.
• The sales price and appraisal are inflated.
• No-money-down sales are included.
• "Silent" second mortgages are involved.
• The sales price is adjusted upward.
• The source of funds is questionable.
• There is a reference to secondary financing on
HUD-1 or purchase contract.
• Parties to the transaction are affiliated.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. U.S.: Construction Alerts Announces New Scam Rocks Foundations of Construction Business A clutch of unscrupulous real estate agents are perpetrating a series of scams that are leaving builders and developers broke and helpless. *** ["I have not received complaints or reports of the claimed scheme. Purchasers of a home should always employ their own independent professionals to inspect a home prior to purchase and to represent them in negotiating the transaction - regardless of the preferences of the builder or property seller. Home purchasers need to look out for their own interests in real estate transactions - and hiring independent professionals to provide advice and assistance is vital to ensuring an intelligent purchase."--Quote and good advice used with permission from Rachel Dollar, attorney, editor of www.mortgagefraudblog.com --Editor]

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. MA: Avoiding 'insulation fraud The problem with insulation is that it is inside the walls, invisible to the eye. An attic or basement may appear to be insulated, but there may be major air leaks. Unlike furnaces, which cycle on and off and produce warm air, the success or failure of an insulation job is not so obvious to the consumer.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. OK: Wildfire Fraud Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is warning Oklahomans who lost homes or property in recent wildfires to be on their guard to avoid being the victims of fraud. [Editorial Note: Despite the article's advice to contact the state AG office and BBB to see if there are complaints on file for a contractor, this editor has letters from BOTH the AG and BBB stating they do NOT make individual complaints publicly available. Do not rely on a report of "no complaints" as the final word. On the other hand, I have gotten copies of complaints from the TX AG by asking and paying for the copies.]

Wednesday, January 04, 2006. TX: Beware of scam artists, attorney general warns Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is warning the victims of recent wildfires to beware of possible scam artists offering to rebuild or repair their properties.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. U.S.: Vested Interests Oppose Housing Tax Provisions - Best Interest of Public is No Interest If you asked any concerned citizen whether they would like to pay less for their housing costs the inevitable answer would be "of course". How to get there continues to be obfuscated by the vested interests ruled by corrupt Republicans who are dropping left and right like flies and whose opinions are becoming about as valuable as a dime a dozen.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. PA, NY, NJ; National interest: Home buyers get more help to fight fraud "It's basically an anti-predatory-lending organization," said Al Wilson, the group's executive director. "People are already calling and we haven't even opened yet."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. U.S.: Loan Fraud Registry Planned WASHINGTON — Concerned about rising mortgage fraud, state regulators are developing plans to create a national registry that would show enforcement actions against lending industry insiders.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. National: Lenders Target State Laws A booming industry that makes home loans to people with fragile credit is lobbying Congress for nationwide rules that regulators and consumer advocates warn would roll back tougher state protections.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. CA; National: Fighting appraisal fraud As the San Diego real estate market cools off and home prices start to fall, local real estate appraisers say they are coming under intensifying pressure from mortgage brokers to provide inflated property valuations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. CA: Tips For Hiring A Contractor Before you sign anything, check the CSLB Web site, www.cslb.ca.gov, or call the Contractors State License Board at (800) 321-CSLB, to make sure the contractor is properly licensed in the class for the work to be performed, and the license is in good standing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. FL: Contractors cited; building director offers tips "They have ordered restitution of $1,500," Meginley said. Ellis is not allowed to work in Marion County until the restitution and $500 fine is paid, which, as of Friday, had not been done. And there's more.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. OH: Financial chief resigns amid investigations at Dublin, Ohio, homebuilder Dominion Homes' chief financial officer has resigned amid investigations by state and federal regulators of the Dublin homebuilder's mortgage operations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. National interest: Complaints up 66% nationwide, Better Business Bureau reports Like Davis, a growing number of people say they're getting bad or belated service from those working in and around their homes. This mounting ire against home contractors might just mirror the growing number of home improvements, says Sheila Adkins, national spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, which saw complaints climb 66 percent between 2002 and 2004.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006. National interest: Know your building contract Making sure it fits your personal preferences

Monday, January 02, 2006. National: Look beyond home's beauty before making the purchase Superficial painting, the artful arrangement of furniture and colorful flower plantings are among the gambits some sellers use to dazzle prospective purchasers.